A 4-Page Playdate Waiver? Is This the New Normal?

Hi Readers — This mom wrote to me wondering if what she just experienced is normal. I’m wondering, too! — L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: I have a situation perhaps your readers can help with.  Yesterday my daughter came home from playing at the “new” neighbor’s house with a 4-page liability waiver that they want us to sign!  Wow!  I guess that dangers lurk over there – in the form of a trampoline – and if she is going to set foot on their property she needs a release first.   I can’t help but feel paranoid – should I then be worried about having their kids over at our house, because the first thing in their mind is legal action?  Has anyone heard of such a thing? Is this the new normal for making friends?  — Stunned Mom

178 Responses

  1. All I know is our neighbors daughter broke her leg on ours, even with a safety net installed, adults around and just low level bouncing. While they did not sue us, I must admit one of my thoughts once we were sure she was okay and would heal up was about our legal liability. Trampolines can be dangerous. After that whenever anyone else’s kids were on it I was nervous.

  2. I wonder if they have been sued in the past and are trying to be doubly sure it doesn’t happen again.

    I would seek an opportunity to have coffee/tea with them and feel them out. If they don’t want to risk liability for their trampoline, I’d tell them to simply tell my kid not to go on it without me present, and I’d tell my kid the same. If they are simply weird paranoid scary people, I wouldn’t encourage my kid to play there.

    I would not sign that paper. Not because I’d want to sue someone, but because it’s just not neihgborly to interact that way. If they don’t trust me to act like a reasonable person, maybe they aren’t ready for my kid’s company yet.

  3. wow! Have you thought about baking this mom some cookies, sitting down with her and finding out, did they have a bad experience with some neighbors at their old place? We have several friends with a trampolines and it never occurred to either of us to sign some kind of waiver. That is just not…neighborly. Neither is suing because your kid got a bump or a lump from playing. Accidents happen. If they are that afraid, they shouldn’t have the trampoline in the first place.

  4. skl, we had the same thought at the same time! Great minds think alike I guess🙂

  5. when I was a kid (probably 15-20 years ago) my dad made people bring in a signed note from their parents saying that it wasn’t our fault if they got hurt on our trampoline. I would say my parents were ultimate free range parents. we were on our own. they both had to work. we called when we got home (if we remembered) and spent our summers doing what we pleased (checking in with grandma if we needed anything). I think the waiver for them was a way to cover their butts if our crazy neighbors got hurt.

  6. I realize that children can be injured on trampolines, but… My daughter broke her arm falling out of bed. That could just as easily have happened at someone else’s house, or could have been someone else’s child in my house. It blows my mind that anyone would think to sue because a child got hurt while playing under normal circumstances.

  7. We had a pool growing up and my mother insisted on that note absolving my parents of liability. When we had a pool a few years ago i did the same and none of the parents seemed to think it odd, or at least didnt express so to me. Rather, i got “I completely understand!” they knew they were taking responsibility by allowingntheir kids to swim, and i would be nearby but i was not superman or god.

  8. Re: (Lots of personal experiences)

    Yes, but, four pages? Nothing wrong with coffee to see what’s up, but at least make sure you read those four pages carefully.

  9. In the short letter, it wasn’t entirely clear if the waiver was for visiting the house, or specifically for using the trampoline, which is otherwise off-limits for visitors. If the former, it’s crazy! But if the latter… I can’t say I blame them given the ER admittance rate related to backyard trampoline use and Americans’ propensity to sue.

    It simultaneously seems very unneighborly to require a waiver, but… on the other hand, it’s a very free range idea for parents to explicitly say “I’m letting my kid do something dangerous and fun, and I’m not going to hold anybody else responsible.”

    We had a trampoline growing up. It was great. But trampolines are a fantastically efficient means of sending people to the emergency room, ask any ER doc. My father was not the average yutz with a trampoline in the back yard — he used to TEACH trampoline as a job (years earlier), we were very safety conscious, and nobody ever got hurt.

    I won’t let my extremely free range kid on a trampoline without me present. I just know too much about what’s required to do it safely, and I haven’t yet found another backyard trampoline owner who has the first damn clue about how to teach and supervise kids on the trampoline.

  10. Looking at the rise in numbers of ER injuries from trampolining – I’d wonder if this is because it’s just about the *only* form of energetic exercise kids get (apart from supervised sports teams). I decline to believe that tramplines are *suddenly* more dangerous than they were when we were growing up – in fact they’ve incorporated a lot more safety features. But kids aren’t breaking arms falling off bikes, or out of trees, or roller skating down the road, anymore (all those activities are much too dangerous….); so the kids who want to push the envelope are trying it on trampolines.

    Of course, it depends on the age (and temperament) of your kids. But if you’ve taught them the safety rules (whatever ones you choose – I’m sure we’ll all differ), and can trust them to abide by the rules (trust is the basis of free-range parenting). Then why ban them from an enjoyable activity, just because you aren’t present?

    If we don’t let kids learn about managing risk when they’re kids – how can we expect them to suddenly be good at assessing their own capabilities when they’re teenagers (cars, motorbikes, water-skiing, not to mention the other sex)

    I can flat out guarantee that it’s far riskier to buckle them into their carseats to drive to the gym, than it is to bounce on the trampoline in the neighbour’s yard.

    Have never experienced receiving any waiver required before play (let alone a 4-page one)! I guess we’re not as lawyer-conscious here in NZ.

    It seems sensible to talk to the parent about why. Have they had a bad experience in the past? And perhaps talk to them about what their expectations are for when their kid visits you (what play/activities don’t they want him/her to do…?) And remind your kid that when s/he is playing at the other house, it’s the other parents’ rules (even if s/he is allowed to do it at home….)

  11. Has anyone seen the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip where Calvin presents a contract to Hobbes regarding the terms of their friendship, with Hobbes eventually informing Calvin that “if your friends are contractual, then you don’t have any”?

  12. Agree with Ann and SKL, probably bad experiences in their past…..or is one/both of them lawyers? Four pages, though – I would be very careful. The waiver might even turn out to be something agreeing to them being allowed to harvest your child’s vital organs, LOL!🙂

    And we are lucky, aren’t we, Ann to be less lawyer conscious. You need an ACC system too (Accident Compensation Corporation). Not perfect, but in return for eliminating the right to sue individuals over liability in accidents, you get free medical care and replacement of wages (to 80%) for as long as required, and usually access to the equipment and rehab etc you need to recover. Covers everyone from infants to the elderly, and is paid for mostly through compulsory levies on salaries for wage-earners and employers. I guess other Western countries probably have similar systems, as nowhere but the US appears to be so lawyer-happy.

  13. Another Kiwi here! Yay! for ACC. My brother rode his bike into a power pole age 12. He broke his nose and killed the nerves in his two front teeth, they turned grey/black. He’s now 36. Last year he had them fixed courtesy of ACC. (Admittedly it was a little bit of a battle given the 20-odd intervening years)

    I think the rise of trampoline incidents since we were kids has to do with all the safety measures and stuff. We had a trampoline, I was on it before I was born. (The family got it for the Christmas before I was born in March. Mum got on to have a go 6 months pregnant).

    Our trampoline was really heavy, probably steel or similar, not the lightweight aluminium framing most are now. It was virtually impossible to tip over. When it needed to be moved it took the whole family to shift it. We didn’t do that much as the legs left divots in the lawn from the weight.

    Watching my niece and nephews I would never have bounced the way they do. They don’t care about true control of where or how they bounce as they hit the netting screen and get thrown back into the middle of the mat. When I was a kid if you mistimed your bounce against another persons it was super scary as you would get thrown much higher and sometimes in a new direction. We learnt to control and recover.

    They don’t have the risks so they don’t develop the skills.

  14. Sounds to me like a pre-nuptial agreement.

    Emotionally, that is crazy and un-neighbourly and unfriendly and accusatory and shocking.

    Logically, it’s a very good idea and everyone should do it.

    You live in a country where heathcare and health insurance is considered a privilege for the rich. This leads to a lot of injury lawsuits, because, for a lot of people, suing someone else for money is the only way that they can afford treatment (or, if they HAD to get treatment, the only way to get out of debt the treatment put them in). It follows that, for some families, if their daughter breaks her leg at a friend’s house doing normal childhood things (even under direct supervision), the only way they can afford treatment and avoid going into debt for their daughter’s broken leg is to sue the friend’s family for the medical costs. If the friend’s family equally can’t cover the costs, well, too bad.

    If the agreement is sane and agreeable to you (i.e., says something like “if any injuries are sustained doing normal, sane childhood activities while the supervising parties are behaving responsibly, you can’t sue us”), there’s no reason not to sign it. There’s also no real reason to be offended by it – they’re not accusing you of being a greedy, litigious bastard, but they ARE wisely covering their bases just in case somebody does do something like that – possibly because they really do need the money.

    Remember, nobody goes into a marriage with somebody, assuming that they will eventually get divorced and then try to make off with all their money and possessions, yet pre-nups are still a thing. This is no different.

  15. We can buy insurance against such nonsense😉

  16. I was all ready to be free-rangedly (yes, made that up just now) outraged, and then I read the word “trampoline” and found myself thinking, “Well… that’s not the most unreasonable thing I’ve ever heard of. It is a trampoline, after all.”

    I guess in a perfect world, any idiot would just KNOW that trampolines are kinda dangerous for kids, but also very fun, and any idiot would be able to either grant or deny permission for their kids based on their evaluation of risk-to-fun, and then the trampoline owners could just say “OK, cool… your kid, your permission, your responsibility” and we’d all go about our bouncy fun.

    But there are a lot of unnecessarily litigious people out there, and a lot of overprotective people out there. If I had a trampoline, I guess I’d probably have some sort of form (or require a note, as others have commented) just for my own peace of mind, not being independently wealthy and all.

  17. This is off-topic, but I couldn’t get to the link you posted for the Atlantic article about safe playgrounds.

  18. And I always think ‘Why sue anyone for an minorly-injured child anyway?’ (and by minor I mean not life-threatening or causing permanent disability) It’s not as if your family loses earnings while the child has their arm in a sling. Though I guess things are different in the States, where there isn’t free healthcare. But even so… And I do think that if it could just as easily happen at your own home
    , when you couldn’t sue anyone, then don’t sue someone else if it happens at theirs.

    I personally wouldn’t sign any waivers – I just tell the parent about my view as above and hope they get the message!

  19. I rather expect that the trampoline household told their insurance company that they have a trampoline, and the insurance company said “ok, we’re going to raise your home insurance by $10,000.” Whereupon the family asked how to lower that, and were told to make people sign this particular waiver.

    I have a friend who was told a similar thing about “any dog which couldn’t be proven to *not* have pit bull or doberman genes” so she ended up with a rescue greyhound, because how can you prove a mutt doesn’t have anything in it somewhere?

  20. I had a neighbor girl break her arm in my yard this summer after falling off a climber (she was on the roof, about 8 feet off the ground, and, yeah… we now have a no sitting on the roof policy) It was horrifying in an “OMG I broke someone else’s child!” sort of way. The girl thought her cast was the awesomest thing ever, and the family was totally cool about it, but still.

    Anyway, I sort of get liability wavers after that. They or their insurance company could have gone after us. It’s sort of pathetic that our society is that litigious, but it is what it is.

  21. We ride horses. Any barn or stable you go to has you sign a liability waiver because “horses are inherently dangerous and unpredictable”. We think nothing of signing these waivers because we know that horses truly are inherently dangerous and unpredictable. You could probably say the same about trampolines given the rise in accidents from playing on them. My son jumped OFF a trampoline (could have been jumping off anything really) and broke his elbow. At the ER we got the lecture on how trampolines are the most dangerous “toy” ever invented. Funny how they stopped telling me that when he started riding motocross!

  22. We had a trampoline in our neighborhood when I was a kid, 25-29 years ago, and I remember that family requiring a signed permission form from our parents. I don’t recall any liability clause in it though. I can understand a permission form – making sure that the parents don’t have a problem with their kid on a trampoline. However, a release of liability form is just another sad statement of where we’ve gotten to, not only with raising our children but with every aspect of our lives.

  23. We used to tie each other into lawn chairs with pillows and blankets for padding and bounce until the chair fell over. We did much the same thing with a sled – to see how long you could stay on the sled. Maybe my friends parents should have had a form for that…

  24. Some friends of ours had a little boy who wanted a trampoline, which they could not afford, so the boy — full of that good all-American entrepreneurial spirit — put up and operated a lemonade stand all summer to raise the necessary cash. Shortly after he bought the trampoline, however, the family’s landlord made them get rid of it, saying that that if another kid was playing on it and got injured, they would sue him (the landlord), and as owner of the property where the accident occurred, he would be liable.

  25. This does sound ridiculous but I must admit to having parents and kids sign a document stating the rules for after-prom at my summer house.

  26. I would be concerned if I didn’t have similar feelings about the neighbor children. Their father threatened to sue us after a tree in our yard was hit by lightning and we refused to cut it down (the arborist declared the tree perfectly fit). I really don’t want the children playing in my yard because he seems the litigious sort and I don’t know what he might do if they were to fall playing in my trees or climbing on my (awesome) giant rock.

  27. people sue all the time. i had a friend stay in my apart in new York for a year. i never asked for a penny for rent. and in the winter it snowed and i cleared the steps in the morning, when he returned from someplace in the afternoon he slipped and hurt himself. he was about to slap me with a lawsuit until i did not let him in anymore unless he signed a waver. this was in New York where he could have made bundled off me –all for my trying to give him a free home to stay in.

  28. People need to understand that injury liability is not just about one individual suing another individual. It is insurance companies going after other insurance companies. When my kid broke his arm climbing a tree on our property, I had to fill out multiple forms from the insurance company asserting that the accident occurred on our property and that no one else was at fault. It was clear that part of their claims process is determining if another party is liable for the injury and going after that party’s insurance company.

  29. I wonder too if the waiver has to do with home owners insurance (or a previous law suit).

    I had to sign a bunch of waivers for my 7 year old to participate in go kart camp. He can’t wait to go back. Interesting, one of the papers I had to sign was to say I understood if my kid demonstrated inability to follow safety rules (recess driving), I understood they would kick him out of camp. He was 7, the karts went 40 miles per hour, I was happy they were serious about safety.

    I remember the huge trampoline we had in PE, doubt they have that anymore. Learning safety rules didn’t eliminate the risk, but it did reduce necessary risk without eliminating fun.

    All goes back to deciding where to draw the “too risky” line…and is that line the “risk of injury vs fun” OR “the risk of getting sued vs fun”

  30. Ugg…should have said “reduced unnecessary risk without eliminating fun” (re: PE trampoline)

  31. This isn’t a comment for the post, but I wanted to send you a link to a documentary on an outdoor preschool in Norway. Part way through the narration comments that these children have much better motor skills due to walking on the uneven rocks on the beach when compared to children who play on the even surfaces of modern playgrounds! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fp4Nny_rIiw

    -c

  32. Oh, and there is discussion on how we need to help children manage risk, rather than eliminate it.

  33. It’s worth putting some focus on what some other posters have mentioned: if your child is injured on the trampoline it needn’t be you that sues them. Once your insurance company pays out for any medical care then absent a waiver the insurance company could sue the neighbors. This strikes me as a disfunction of the US medical system rather than the neighbors. I would sign it and invite them over for coffee.

  34. When I was a child, our friends owned property with an awesome, deep lake (formed quarry site) and equally marvelous high dive. Our parents were required to sign a waiver despite being close friends with these people for years before they moved to this property. They were free-rangers and so were my parents. Often, we pre-teens went swimming without the supervision of adults (although we did have older teen siblings around). My parents thought this was a perfectly reasonable request (for the waiver), and almost 20 years later, I still agree. We live in a litigation-happy society. It’s sad, but I don’t think it’s inappropriate for a family to want to protect their assets from an opportunistic lawyer.

  35. My guess it’s a requirement of their insurance company but I think they could have presented it better (i.e. them giving it to you instead of sending it with your child) so they could let you know it was the company not you. Even if someone chooses not to sue, the insurance companies will go after whoever they think is the “responsible” party even for something considered an accident. My daughter had a bike wreck on a city sidewalk and had to go to the ER; the insurance company followed up with me with many questions about all the details of the accident, presumably to see if they could recoup their costs from someone else. Unfortunately for them, an 8-year old not paying attention to where she’s going on a city sidewalk isn’t really anyone else’s fault!

  36. One of our neighbors in CA sued us for $1.4 million after their daughter, with her mother’s verbal permission, broke her leg “under” our trampoline. Her much older brother was “on” the trampoline. He made her walk home on the broken leg. Six weeks later I video taped her blissfully runnung around the neighborhood.

    Sadly, I had to say no when new neighbors wanted to jump with our girls.

  37. We have a trampoline (with safety net) in our backyard. It’s the first thing the kids are drawn to. Of course we have *rules* which I enforce but don’t necessarily police (as in I’m not out there watching them 24/7/365).

    Kids that come to visit have their parents told we have a trampoline. They are given the option to not have their child on the trampoline (which none have actually taken me up on). In 6 years of having the trampoline we’ve had NO broken bones (but we had a boy break his arm on the slip n slide one summer by falling on it wrong).

    It’s an “assumed risk” at my house and I wouldn’t consider a legal document in any way.

  38. Waivers really are going to be the new normal for free range parents who have non-free range kids visiting, I’m afraid. So far I haven’t felt the need for one, but I do ask other parents before letting the kids play with our kids wood swords/shields, before they use the zip line, and (if we ever get it finished) climb in our tree house! I also check to see if it’s okay with them to climb on the hay in the barn or pet our moderate sized farm animals. We also use tools (hammers, nails, etc) to build ‘forts’ and that concerns me when other children are over. Their cousins are all allowed to do these things, because, well… we’re siblings and grew up much the same way! I also worry about other people’s children getting dirty or ruining clothing articles when we do painting or dig holes or what-not. Not because the parents are jerks or anything, just because many parents have different expectations of what ‘normal’ play is and I don’t want to call and explain an injury/ruined piece of clothing and hear them say, “You let them do WHAT?” We are putting up a pool this summer, and I’ve actually been wondering whether we will need some sort of waiver, or if I just need verbal permission and a really strong, high, unclimbable fence to keep insurance off our backs. (We’ll need some sort of a fence anyway, until my kids all either learn how to swim, can touch the bottom, or put on their own life jackets, but…)

  39. I believe that is what the lawyers call “an attractive nuisance”. It isn’t fair that you should be liable for someone else coming onto your property and playing with it without your permission– and yet, it happens.
    I had a paramedic tell me she made the kids sit through a safety video before they could swim at her pool– having hauled enough dead kids out of pools I guess who could blame her. Although I did have a pool growing up, the idea that I’d have to be worried about OTHER people drowning in it (and I did drown in mine when I was three) makes it a very unattractive proposition.

  40. My adult friends and I like to “fight” each other with padded swords. Frequently the neighbors’ young children see us and ask to join in. We say, “Let me ask your parents,” and show the parents the items we will be using, which are carefully prepared.

    I’ve never had a parent say no, or make a big deal of it. (Can’t imagine how a kid could get hurt playing with them, either, except by tripping and falling.)

  41. Honestly, I would not have a pool because I’d be afraid that someone else’s kid would sneak in and drown. Horrible on so many levels. Now after reading the comments here, I’m thinking I won’t have a trampoline, either.

    I have in my backyard a hill, a ravine, a stream, and plenty of other things that kids can use to test their limits via trial and error, sometimes with risks involved. However, at least I don’t think anyone could blame me if their kid decided to come to my yard when I’m not looking and get themselves hurt. I didn’t put the hill, trees, water, etc. there. If my kids want to jump on a trampoline, I guess they’ll have to make friends with our neighbors down the street.

    (If the shoe were on the other foot – in the pool example – I would totally understand people not wanting to be responsible for what my kid might do in their pool. And I would not want my kids in someone else’s pool unless I was very sure of adequate supervision (and my kids can swim). Applying similar logic to trampolines, I am all for my neighbors keeping my kids away from theirs. I don’t know much about trampolines myself, but it sounds like something that requires a bit of training and experience to use safely. Untrained kids have plenty of other things to do.

  42. I have friends who live in a small middle America town with their two elementary school age daughters, their yard is surrounded on three sides by neighbors yards. Within a few weeks of moving in they discovered that the kids from the house whose yard backs up against theirs (so the actual house is on a different street) were climbing over the fence and playing in my friends’ yard without their knowledge. They were concerned that a) these kids parents may have no idea where they were, and b) that if the kids fell out of the treehouse or off the tyre swing they could be seriously hurt and no-one would know they were even there.

    Their solution was to go round to the neighbor’s house, explain the situation and say that they were quite happy for the kids to come over and play but they were not allowed to climb the fence. So, they had to walk around to the house via the street, knock on the front door, and ask if they could play. This seems not only fair but good manners to me but the parents in question took offense and said if it was a problem they would just ban their children from playing there.

    The eldest kid decided to climb over the fence anyway, slipped while doing so, landed on a glass ornament she knocked down, and got badly cut. My friends weren’t home but luckily their next door neighbor was out in his yard and saw the kid fall. The first my friends knew about what had happened was when the kid’s parent came knocking on their door yelling about how irresponsible it is to have glass in a yard with children.

    Thankfully they put it down to one crazy neighbor and still allow other neighborhood kids to come over to play with their daughters. But I can see how an experience like that would have a parent demanding signed waivers from every parent in a three block radius!

  43. Find new friends.
    Do they also have waivers for car rides?

  44. I feel bad for those people. I bet something has happened to the in the past and they are scared out of their minds.

  45. It’s a sad statement on our society’s litigiousness. Can’t say that I blame them, but don’t know that I’d sign it either. If it’s a four-page big deal, it might not be worth it.

    Also just want to point out to everyone, that no matter where you are from and how your healthcare is paid for, it is most decidedly NOT FREE.

  46. I can understand this. Just because you’re a free-range parent that thinks if your child get hurt on a trampoline, it’s not the trampoline owners’ fault doesn’t mean every parent thinks that way. We live in a society where suing is the answer for some parents and you need to protect yourselves even if you’re not one of those people.

  47. I understand a quick note saying “yes, I’m ok with my kid playing on your trampoline”, but come on… 4 pages? Wow. And, as someone else questioned, was the waiver just for the trampoline, or for any visit?

  48. I do have a trampoline and no waivers. I only have one child who comes onto the property to use the trampoline when I’m not home and he belongs to a friend.

    I agree that with the previous poster who said that this is a way to lower their homeowner’s insurance. When the homeowner’s insurance found out about the trampoline, it said getting a signed waiver would decrease the insurance premiums. The length is due to either (1) what the insurance company gave them, (2) they are lawyers, or (3) it was one they found on the internet and copied it. I don’t think that it’s an indication of helicopter, crazy or otherwise people. I think that it’s an indication of thrifty people who want to save some money on insurance premiums. Have a social conversation with them or two before you decide if they are nuts or are nice people just doing what their insurance company asked.

    Remember that the vast majority of lawsuits in this area are medical insurance companies suing homeowner’s insurance companies. The suits are required to be by named persons and the insureds are required to participate in the lawsuit whether they support it or not. Individuals are not litigious but insurance companies sure are. It is a problem with the American insurance system, not people.

    People also like to threaten to sue people. Unless there is a legitimate reason to sue, it’s generally an idle threat. There are crazy people who sue people themselves for all ills (those plaintiffs are usually well known by the local courts and the suits don’t go anywhere) but lawyers usually stay away from pointless lawsuits that are going to cost them money. It’s kinda like my kid threatening to not be my friend when I don’t do what she wants.

  49. The saddest part is all this could be done away with if we adopted a loser-pays tort system like Germany has. In Germany, if you file a lawsuit and lose or it’s dismissed, you pay your own court costs and the defendant’s.

  50. We could certainly use tort reform in the US. However, we also need to be careful not to exaggerate the fear of lawsuits. Reading this thread, one would get the impression that we are all being sued all the time for stupid reasons. Personally I can’t think of any case where anyone in my famiy was ever sued. The only lawsuits I’ve encouraged were two for blatant employee discrimination – and the settlements for those were both under $100K. People I know don’t go around looking for trouble. And while there are more than enough ambulance chasers to go around, most of us lawyers don’t entertain such nonsense either.

    I’d also note that most Americans do have health insurance. I think the last stat I saw was 90%, and the 10% who didn’t were largely folks who were unlikely to need it anytime soon (healthy young adults, for instance). The risk that a child’s injury could drive a family into financial ruin is also very much exaggerated.

  51. Insurance companies and lawyers, making people jump through hoops to participate in even the simplest of activities. Because life isn’t complicated enough already.

    A few years ago, my son fell off a jumping castle at a neighbour’s birthday party, resulting in a broken collarbone. We didn’t even think of suing anybody. Of course, we live in a civilised country with free healthcare, so the costs to us were minimal to nonexistent.

  52. During my Free Range childhood (80’s-90’s), I had a friend who had a trampoline. In order to play on it, we were required to sign a waiver to jump on it (which my mom never did, so we never got to play on it). This seemed ridiculous to me as a kid, but I suppose this was the start of the “Let’s Sue Everyone” era. If it is a trampoline-specific waiver, it sort of makes sense. But if it includes the entire property and duration of the “play date,” that seems ridiculous. (Why “play date?” Why isn’t it just “going to a friend’s house?”)

  53. For our MOMS Club play dates, there were waivers to sign anytime we were at someone else’s home as well as permission slips and waivers for any field trip. It sucked but seemed to put everyone more at ease.😛

  54. Not normal in Northern NJ where we live. Never been asked to do anything unless scouts or some other org. was involved, but certainly not kids playing together, playdates or just going to the neighbors house.

  55. Good for them for keeping the trampoline while acknowledging that accidents happen? There is an aspect that I understand here they they feel that having fun is worth a risk and maybe this is their way of documenting that their kids playmates parents have the same idea. That is what I am going with and I hope everyone has a fun bounce…

  56. If the waiver was for their trampoline, then yes that’s normal. I had a large, above ground 7’x14 trampoline when I was a (free-range) kid, and my parents had my guests sign a waiver in case the other kids got injured so their parents wouldn’t sue us. It’s precautionary and perfectly rational. PS we didn’t have any nets around it or anything, and no one ever got hurt.

  57. I remember as a kid in the 70’s that there were two families in the neighbourhood with trampolines. One required a permission note from your parents (can’t remember if it was a one-off note or a new note each time), and one was just “come on over, join the fun” and no note required.

    We also had a neighbour with an indoor pool. I don’t remember permission notes, but I think there was a casual conversation each time about permission. One neighbour had an outdoor pool, and it was the same, a casual permission conversation on the phone.

    Here’s hoping that page 4 of the 4-page waiver was just a signature page. LOL

  58. If this is in any way “normal” then it is a truly sad indictment of American society. I would never raise children in a country where this was considered anything other than absurd.
    Sorry.

  59. “The risk that a child’s injury could drive a family into financial ruin is also very much exaggerated.”

    For middle class people, likely. A broken arm or leg is not going to be much more than a financial inconvenience. Even if they don’t have insurance for some reason, they likely will be able to handle paying the bill off monthly. A paralyzing injury or a serious brain injury that will likely result in the loss of substantial income for at least one parent could quite possibly result in financial ruin but is far less likely.

    For the working class and poor, no it’s not. I won’t dispute your numbers although a gross understatement of the true state of insurance in the country (and still amounts to 31 MILLION uninsured). However, even crappy insurance is considered “insured.” So a person with a $5,000 deductible is considered “insured.” Try to pay a $5,000 medical bill when you are supporting a family of 4 on $10 an hour. Factor in unpaid time off work to take care of the child and you’re at homeless for a broken leg.

    People with money don’t realize how close to the edge many people in this country live. All it takes is ONE bill they don’t anticipate or ONE week out of work for them to be homeless. Maybe we should let them decide if they can afford a child’s broken leg and not people with much more money than them.

  60. A few comments, and I may break them up into 2-3 postings.

    First-off, while I suppose I can understand people assuming a “cover your anus” (CYA) disposition via the “sign here please” approach, it is definitely a goofed-up society we live in if it is such that people are compelled to do so on account of fear of lawsuits & feeling compelled to appease their insurance companies. To me, insurance companies are NOBODY, not even accounting for that they don’t want to be held liable for sloppiness, to tell someone how to practically LIVE just because that person buys a policy from them.

    In my case, I love outdoor swimming, for some reason, enough that winter-time drives me crazy, especially since here, for some bizarre reason, heated pools are as rare as $3 bills. We’ve been known to shop for hotels on vacation & find out that you have to get up to the $200 a night level or higher to get a hotel with a heated pool. When I lived in Arizona before, even Motel 6’s had heated pools. Everywhere did.

    Anyway, a close-by neighbor has a nice clean pond, goes to 15 feet deep, I saw it while bicycling in the area & actually approached them and asked if they would be okay with my swimming in it. It took some persuading, because yes they were worried if I were to be hurt on it they would be held liable. I convinced them that I was VERY “anti-sue” in my attitude & that I was more than competent to handle myself (I have swum in non-lifeguarded lakes & rivers by myself for years). They now allow me to swim there anytime I please, they merely remind me “be careful” and that’s it. It is such a blessing to have that so close-by, and I really appreciate their hospitality & their not letting the fear of lawsuits hold them back.

    THAT is the way it should be.

    Another post next, dealing with “attractive nuisance.”

    LRH

  61. I think this has been said already, but some house insurance companies won’t insure a house with a trampoline. In fact, my Uncle’s insurance company requires him to have people sign a waiver if their kids are going to jump on their trampoline. Their kids are gymnists so the their tramp is right under a 10 foot drop from their porch with no net. No one has ever gotten hurt, and all of their friend’s parents have signed the waiver. It may be nothing more than the insurance company.

  62. I personally disagree strongly with the “attractive nuisance” doctrine. I have tried to research when it came to be that way, if it goes back to the founding of our country or is a recent phenomenon born of our sometimes sue-happy culture and/or helicopter-parenting tendencies, but so far I’ve not seen a clarification on that.

    Anyway, I disagree with it vehemently because while I am free-range in terms of regarding kids playing all over the place to be totally normal, and by all means no one wants a child to die, still, I am very strongly pro-private property. I don’t believe in subdivisions, restrictive covenants, covenants “running with the land,” any of it. If you own the property, it is yours, and that’s it, you should be under NO OBLIGATION to anyone in your vicinity period.

    I strongly believe, with a few exceptions (noise pollution via barking dogs etc), that a person’s property is sacred, pure, free from any outside concerns whatsoever, even child-based ones, and what a person does on their own property is their own business and anyone of any age who trespasses into that sacred space gets what’s coming to them if they get hurt due to trespassing into that space.

    Period.

    The closest people to us (about 100 yards away through the woods) have an above-ground pool, and I can imagine my kids as they get older being drawn to it and wanting to go over there and play in it. However, while I definitely want my kids to feel free to explore the woods around us, I also expect them to stay out of other people’s property when I tell them to. I do NOT CARE what age they are, and what someone else says in terms of “they’re too young ot understand”–I don’t care. Once I explain to them “you are not to go into that person’s yard,” I expect it them to understand & obey accordingly, and that’s that. Period.

    Not to shock anyone, but if I explain this to them clearly and they still go over there anyway, I don’t look at it as my fault for “failure to control” and (more to the point) I do not look at is as the fault of the neighbors for failure to control their “attractive nuisance” (there is no form of fencing around the pool at all, you could walk right up to it). To me, and I mean it when I say this, it would be my CHILD’S FAULT and no one else’s. They were told, it was explained, and they did it anyway. It would be their OWN FAULT.

    (Note: they’re 3 and 5 right now, and they play in a fenced-in area. I have intended that around the age of 8 or 9 is when I’d start letting them play in the surrounding woods “at large” without any fencing.)

    I understand we have to have “age appropriate” expectations, I surely don’t expect my 3-year old to have enough sense to understand that. But I actually would be this close to saying I DO expect the 5 year old to understand this and behave accordingly. I certainly would expect it out of her around the age of 8 or so.

    Otherwise, they’re not leaving the yard, ever, and I’m free-range, but if you can’t do as you’re told and stay off of someone’s land who didn’t invite you, then you have no “woods roaming” privileges whatsoever.

    My neighbor, in my opinion, is under zero obligation to fence up their pool just because I have kids. They aren’t HIS kids, and that’s his property. My kids are my problem, his property is his property. Simple as that. If the law doesn’t recognize it this way, the law is WRONG and ought to be changed.

    LRH

  63. Trampolines are very dangerous! One of the leading causes of spinal cord injuries. I would never have one in my yard for that reason and can understand why the family is worried about their liability.

  64. “Maybe we should let them decide if they can afford a child’s broken leg and not people with much more money than them.”

    OK, then perhaps these people’s kids should not be allowed to play anyplace where they could get hurt?

    I would really love to see statistics on families becoming homeless due to a child’s broken bone. I’m not exactly living in a bubble, and I just don’t buy it. If you’re that down and out, there’s Medicaid for starters. If you’re in a situation where your child needing an ER visit puts you out of a job/home, then your problem isn’t health insurance.

    Yes, our economy sucks right now, but the answer isn’t bringing up a generation of wusses. And even the awesomest tort and insurance reform isn’t going to save this economy. Blowing these problems out of proportion only hampers the efforts to provide kids more exercise and independence.

    That said, I do believe we have room for improvement. For example, I would love to do away with the system that allows doctors and hospitals to charge the uninsured many times more than the fees they negotiate with insurance companies. That is an outrage and it’s not an exaggeration.

  65. “if it goes back to the founding of our country or is a recent phenomenon born of our sometimes sue-happy culture and/or helicopter-parenting tendencies, but so far I’ve not seen a clarification on that.”

    If I remember correctly from my torts law school class (it was many years ago and I don’t practice civil law), it goes way back. I seem to remember reading cases from early 1900s that dealt with attractive nuisances although the details escape me now. It is definitely not a recent phenomenon.

  66. I don’t really care about the law of attractive nuisances. If I found someone’s tot drowned in my pool, I don’t think I could get over it. My kids can swim at the city rec center.

  67. “OK, then perhaps these people’s kids should not be allowed to play anyplace where they could get hurt?”

    I think that’s what I’m saying. I’m not going to fault someone who doesn’t want their children playing on a trampoline because they can’t afford a broken leg. I’m not going to fault someone for wanting a waiver in case someone is jumping on the trampoline who can’t afford a broken leg and sues them. What’s the alternative? Ask for full financial statements and proof of insurance before allowing people to jump?

    But demand makes supply. If the majority of parents don’t want injuries (whether because they can’t pay or simply don’t want them) and therefore demand less dangerous equipment, we get less dangerous equipment. Acting like we are not living in the world that we created ourselves (by “we” I mean the general population, not us in particular) gets us nowhere. The playground equipment manufactures are not forcing wussy equipment at us against our demand for the really dangerous stuff. We are demanding the less dangerous stuff in favor of less injury and the manufacturers are responding.

    “If you’re that down and out, there’s Medicaid for starters.”

    First, there’s a large number of people who are poor and cannot be covered by medicaid. Medicaid doesn’t cover you because you can’t pay the medical bill. Those living in poverty qualify. The working poor generally don’t. Second, medicaid doesn’t cover you at all if you have insurance, even if it’s really crappy insurance. If you have a $5000 deductible, medicaid is not going to step up and cover the $5000. So if you do what everyone wants you to do and buy insurance but the best you can afford is crap, no medicaid and no coverage for minor injuries and illnesses either. The best having the insurance does for you is lower the amount you are out of pocket since you get the insured rates, not the uninsured rates.

    “If you’re in a situation where your child needing an ER visit puts you out of a job/home, then your problem isn’t health insurance.”

    Absolutely, but such is life. We have many poor people in the US. Their problems are vast and certainly not limited to insurance. In fact, if you solve the other problems, the insurance issue will likely resolve itself. That doesn’t make the fact that they cannot afford an ER visit any less real for them now. Nor do we have any real solutions for the other problems that plague them.

    This is not a recent problem because the economy sucks. The working poor scraping by paycheck to paycheck have existed for generations. This population has been growing since we shut down pretty much all major manufacturing in this country but it existed even prior to then. Come hang out at work with me for a few days. You can see the dark side of the country.

  68. “I think that’s what I’m saying. I’m not going to fault someone who doesn’t want their children playing on a trampoline because they can’t afford a broken leg. I’m not going to fault someone for wanting a waiver in case someone is jumping on the trampoline who can’t afford a broken leg and sues them.”

    So the people suing are all so poor that they can’t take their kid to the ER for a broken bone? I highly doubt it. More likely the vast majority have sufficient insurance and are suing for perks. How many of the uninsured working poor live next door to a family with an insured trampoline in their backyard?

    I don’t fault anyone who doesn’t want their kids jumping on a trampoline without appropriate training and supervision. I said myself that I wouldn’t want my kids doing that. Why make this into a class issue? Are there stats that show the majority of home insurance lawsuits are filed by poor, uninsured parents?

  69. Actually, recalling some reading I did in the past, the stats say that poor kids are most likely to sustain in-home injuries. Meaning, in their own homes. So I’m not sure I can buy the theory that poor uninsured parents are more careful with their kids. (Even controlling for the fact that money can reduce some in-home risks.) That certainly hasn’t been my street experience, either. It’s usually the folks with “more” who think their darlings are too special to risk getting hurt.

  70. I don’t think poor people are more careful with their kids. Many of the poor people I know don’t give two s&its about their kids. You brought up insurance. I was simply contradicting your statement that lack of insurance is not a problem in this country.

    I do think that your equating people who live paycheck to paycheck or people who cannot afford an injury as “poor” is off. I know many educated people who fall into this category. I know many artists (my mother is one), public interest workers, educators and other low income professionals who are barely scraping by. Do I think that they are more careful of their children because of money issues? Some are.

    I’m saying that WE (meaning society) created this problem by not wanting our children to get hurt. The reasons are varied. Many simply don’t like to see their child hurt. Some just don’t want others to think they are bad parents because their children got hurt. But, yes, I know people who limit some of their children’s activities because they can’t afford medical bills without a substantial impact on their life. They hate it but high risk activities are discouraged. I know others for whom missing work is a problem. Still others have legitimate reasons we will never know. I’m somewhat more careful with my child right now than I was back in the states because medical care is sketchy here (albeit free) and odd infections common. A serious injury would require at best a 10+ hour plane trip to San Diego where I could live with my grandmother while she got treatment and at worst a life-flight to Hawaii followed by a lengthy hotel stay. The lives we lead impact the choices we make with our children.

    Parents need to stop with fretting over every little bump, cut and bruise. Let kids be kids and have fun. A happy, active childhood requires a large quantity of minor injuries. Being cautious around things with a higher risk of broken bones and serious injury is not something I fault people for. I’m just not all up-in-arms over playground equipment as I think it’s very incidental to a child’s life. I live on an island without any and the kids are perfectly happy, healthy and exceedingly free range.

  71. My kids can swim at the city rec center.

    Wildly off-topic, but just recently the nieces and I read a book where one character contracted polio.

    My mother is just old enough to remember the polio scares where they’d shut down the pools and everything. She got one of the first doses of the vaccine as a child. We read that book and I turned to my nieces and went “You have no idea how lucky you are that you won’t have to worry about this.”

    (Then again, I can be a bit morbid. Every time we play hide and seek and I hear them giggling I wonder how they would’ve ever survived the Holocaust…. I’ve yet to share this little insight with them!)

    Private pools are terribly wasteful in NYC, where they’re expensive and they take up your entire yard even if they’re small. Nobody in our neighborhood has one, although there are lots in the neighborhood where the younger niece goes to school. The thought of having one, regardless of being an “attractive nuisance” (in a neighborhood where the children think nothing of walking through people’s yards and climbing on their garages, nuisance is the least of it!), but I’m sincerely (if off-topically) grateful that the odds of contracting a serious water-borne illness is slim in the US.

    And, on that subject, the last user of an iron lung in California died just last week. There’s not many of them left. Most remaining polio survivors in the US have switched to more modern ventilators by now.

  72. So clearly the solution is don’t let poor people near your stuff, they can’t afford it.

  73. I do think that your equating people who live paycheck to paycheck or people who cannot afford an injury as “poor” is off. I know many educated people who fall into this category. I know many artists (my mother is one), public interest workers, educators and other low income professionals who are barely scraping by.

    Donna, isn’t the definition of “poor” literally “not having much money”?

    If an educated person is making a low income and barely scraping by, why NOT call them poor? They ARE poor!

  74. I think Donna nails it. I myself absolutely want & encourage our kids to be free-range, and I absolutely get perturbed when I see someone act like it’s doomsday prophesied when their child gets a tiny bruise or cut, and I especially hate it when you’re someone like me with some perspective on all of that and others think you’re an indifferent or even neglectful parent for not preventing your child from encountering ANY such. Either your child looks like a Barbie Doll or you’re an awful parent.

    However, I will say that I don’t want my child to get broken bones either, if it can be helped, and to be bluntly honest, one of the reasons is because if that happened we’d have to drop everything and immediately go the hospital & end up spending 8-9 hours in the emergency waiting room, and I absolutely go stir-crazy in that environment. Don’t misunderstand me, if your child needs emergency care you do it, no matter how much you may prefer to be doing something else, that’s your responsibility. I’m just saying it’s something I absolutely loathe even as I would obviously do it if need be.

    (Normal doctor’s appointments are no big deal to me, however.)

    And I feel that way enough that, I must say, prior to reading this thread I was looking hard to get our kids a trampoline, but in hearing how many say the risk of broken bones etc is considerably high, I’ve changed my mind. They’re just going to have to find some other way to have fun. If we had a trampoline, after reading this, I’d cringe everytime they get on one afraid that at any moment the day would be hijacked by a broken arm meaning us spending half the day & night in an emergency waiting room, to say nothing of course of the pain my child would endure. If that makes me an awful father, then I guess I am one.

    On the other hand, I surely don’t make them spend all-day in the house doing nothing but watching TV because I want to make 100% sure nothing happens to them. I let them outdoors to play a lot, and I know there is still a CHANCE they could be hurt, but it would be selfish for me to totally prevent them from having any outdoors/adventure fun just because I don’t want to be personally inconvenienced. I see them jump off of things of a normal height, and I cringe, and I think “man if they break their arm & I end up spending half the day in the hospital, I’m going to be so mad!” But I let them, because to forbid it on that grounds would be selfish.

    And again, an occasional bruise or cut–hey, that’s part of childhood, nothing to get all panicked about. Apply some ointment & a bandage, comfort them, and let the playing resume immediately aftewards.

    I’m just saying that, if it’s something that has a very high level of probability of that (vs a more minor risk), then yes I’m one to veto it because I don’t want to spend half the weekend in an emergency waiting room going stir crazy.

    LRH

  75. I wouldn’t send my kids over there because their first priority is their legal exposure and not my kid’s well-being. Take care of the kids properly and you won’t have to worry about a lawsuit to begin with.

  76. No no no. As a homeowner and paralegal, I would say that any “liability waiver” is no safety from being sued. You can refuse from signing (as I would do) and if that cost the relationship then it is an example for your children. Check your own homeowners policy and see what it says about things like tramp., tree houses, horses, etc. Most people are NOT making parents sign release forms. NUTS.

  77. “Donna, isn’t the definition of “poor” literally “not having much money”?
    If an educated person is making a low income and barely scraping by, why NOT call them poor? They ARE poor!”

    All people who live paycheck to paycheck are not “poor.” They simply spend exactly what they take in. Hell, I worked with people who made $125,000 a year and lived paycheck to paycheck because of, in my mind, stupid choices that they made. They disagreed on the stupidity of their choices. Do you consider a 25 year old making $125,000 a year “poor” because he bought more house than he can afford and still have a cushion and now lives paycheck to paycheck? If so, they’re poor.

  78. Actually bmj2k, the point is that kids have silly accidents, and also probably takes into account the fact that if you’re at someone else’s house, the adult in that house is unlikely to be watching your kid all the time. Why would they? I have been standing literally feet from children (preschoolers) who has fallen and broken teeth or limbs, and been unable to reach whoever the child was in time to prevent the breaks. And standing by and watching kids on a tramp is unlikely to prevent them getting injured.

    And Maureen, of course healthcare isn’t free, but when it is paid for through taxes the load is spread more fairly. Our biggest mistake in this country was allowing private healthcare providers to operate at all. Prior to that we had an excellent public healthcare system. I personally cannot comprehend the issue Americans seem to have with the idea of universal healthcare. Must be a cultural thing. Myself, I have no trouble paying higher taxes if it means I can get serious health care when I need it (still have to pay for ordinary doctors’ visits).

  79. PS and unlike when you pay insurance for yourself personally, my higher tax bill means everyone else, including the poor, can also have access to ‘serious’ healthcare.

    Off topic, but then again maybe not, if you’re so worried about having to pay for someone else’s medical bills (through being sued) that you’re issuing 4page waivers.

  80. Donna, I didn’t bring up insurance, I was responding to the exaggerated point made by an earlier poster that if a non-rich US kid gets hurt, his parents are 100% out of pocket unless they sue. This exaggerated attitude is just as bad as all the other exaggerated fears we talk about here. I don’t think our insurance situation is perfect, but it’s not as bad as some seem to think.

    As for the “fairness” of covering healthcare through taxes (which Medicare and Medicaid and ER insurance already do to a large extent), our tax system allows half of Americans to pay zero into the pot while some of us pay our share many times over. Maybe if our tax system were a bit more fair in the first place, we would be happier to spread still more of the nation’s healthcare costs. But yes, part of it is culture. We like the idea of personal accountability. If certain services are predominantly used by people who make poor choices, those who make better choices don’t want to pay for that. Kinda like car insurance – if my driving record is good, I deserve a lower premium, not a higher one. There is a sense that maybe if you have to pay for your mistakes, you won’t make as many in the future. How does a nationalized health system incorporate personal responsibility?

  81. All issues of neighborliness, sanity, and free-range aside, I seriously question how legally valid this waiver would be should someone actually get hurt. (I’m a lawyer but this isn’t my area of law.)

    Trampolines ARE dangerous, by the way. I’m super free range and I’d never have one because I’m worried about liability. Our neighbors had one and a couple of times, the husband came home to find other kids playing on it while they weren’t home!

    I do wonder how often people sue each other over stuff like this. Our daughter got a concussion playing at a neighbor’s house. Unbeknownst to the parents, some of the kids got into the back of a parked pickup truck. My daughter fell out of the back and hit her head. I would never sue because it’s just a horrible accident. Sometimes bad things happen and it doesn’t always happen to be someone’s fault.

  82. For real? I hope she is being punked and this is just an early April fool’s joke.

  83. When the subject of getting a trampoline came up in our house I was 100% against it. Same with a pool. I didn’t want to be legally respnsible for all the kids in the neighborhood. I also didn’t think either were worth the cost or the maintenance, and I don’t really want to hang around the yard. I’d rather the kids go swim and use the bouncy castle at the Y.
    As for the working poor, I know plenty of families who can’t even afford to take a day off work to take their kids to the hospital, and I’m in Canada where the health care is free. These are educated families with jobs, in a very middle class neighborhood. These are people who are living beyond their means, but would rather live paycheque to paycheque so they can live in a safe, nice area.

  84. My cousins had a trampoline growing up but their parents wouldn’t let them have it until they both took trampoline classes so they could learn how to be safe. They were ardently strict about one kid on it at a time. There was no safety net as they didn’t make them back then. No injuries, unless you count the time my cousin broke her collarbone when competing at the Trampoline Nationals.

  85. When I was younger, many many moons ago, we were all free range kids. There was one Stay at Home Mom and some 50 neighborhood kids that she kept an eye on – from her kitchen window. There were no fences, lot’s of swing sets, bicycles, trampolines, trees, dirtbikes, and snow machines – all sorts of things for kids to get in trouble with.

    A neighbor (A) girl was in another neighbor (B)’s yard (B family was not home) playing on their swing set. She (all by herself) jumped off the swing at it’s highest point and broke her arm. Neighbor (A) sued Neighbor (B) for the broken arm and WON.

    This was – 30 years ago? – It struck me AT THAT TIME as ridiculous and I was but a pre-teen. Neighbor (B) got rid of the swing set and cut down their apple trees – such a shame. Neighbor (A) was not welcome at anyone’s home ever again.

  86. hineata,

    have you lived in a country with Social health? it doesn’t provide “serious” health care. There are 6 month waiting lists for simple things like MRI’s. There are 2 year waiting lists for major surgeries. The hospitals don’t have basic supplies like local anaestheics. My sister in law’s aunt in Canada was on a 6 month waiting list for an MRI to diagnose a brain tumor. She was lucky ad went to the U.S., paid for the MRI, brought the results back to Canada and that saved her life. She would have been close to death in 6 months.

    Of course this isn’t the point of the article. My pediatrician gave me a 30 minute lecture on the harms of trampolines. But I think they are awesome and such a fun way to give the kids some outdoor exercise.

    And our insurance company will not cover tramps without the netting. I know of someon’e whose insurance company asks them to get waivers. I think having a netting, or getting a waiver are both worth the insurance and the trampoline. Besides, if you have a home loan you have to have insurance. So we compromise, follow the rules, and our kids can still have fun.

  87. I could see doing this if kids are coming over. I’d imagine one standing one would be enough. Would also be nice to have something about having some medical care coverage and medical ID numbers.

    I’d maybe just ask to exchange them from both sides. Or just ask if there’s something particular that they’re worried about.

  88. I have to say, hearing all of this talk about insurance makes me so glad that our living space, as humble as it is (and calling it “humble” is being VERY charitable), nonetheless it is PAID for and that means, if we don’t want to, we don’t have to have homeowner’s insurance. (I do understand that doing so means if something gets lost in a fire, theft etc you’re not covered.)

    I say this because, frankly, my attitude is I don’t give a rat’s rear-end what an insurance company thinks in terms of how I have my house or should have it. The freedom from worry about that sort of thing is just wonderful & I can’t imagine living any other way. Any sorts of things we do to our house, in terms of what we connect, fix, add or remove, we just use our own judgment. The neighbor (as I mentioned) has an above-ground pool with NO fencing anywhere. We just got one ourselves & are clearing out an area to erect it. In all of that not once had we had to consider what an insurance carrier would think of it.

    If I, say, were to have a REAL pool (not an above-ground one), I would want it 12 feet deep and a diving board, and (depending on practical concerns that I felt important) no fencing. Period. My house, my rules. SCREW what the insurance company thinks. (The neighbor with the pond I mentioned–they have no fencing around it, and it’s only about 10 feet from the highway wide-open to where anyone could walk right up if they wanted.) I have heard of some places having shallow 5-foot in-ground pools (very boring to me) and the reason for it–the insurance carrier wouldn’t cover them if they had one deeper.

    I’m sorry, but that’s just no way to live if you ask me.

    We don’t have much here in terms of what things are worth, and I’m not scoffing people who have nice places & do what they have to in order to protect them, including–dare I say it–brown-nosing the insurance company with how they have their house, but I am very glad I don’t have to live that way.

    LRH

  89. […] 4-Page Playdate Waiver? Is This the New Normal?” [Lenore Skenazy, Free-Range Kids; our 2000 post on "Rise of the High-School Sleepover […]

  90. This cannot be normal. I used to think that middle school students with resumes was absurd, but this is insane. Society has become too litigious and too obsessed with risk versus the normal growing process.
    Trampolines can cause injuries, but usually only to unsupervised children (and usually the same type of child who later drives a car at 100 mph). Just about any activity can injure you if you have no brains.

  91. I dunno. I kind of see this one as risk reduction. It’s unlikely that IF a child falls off and gets hurt, that child’s parents (or their insurance company) will sue. However, if that happens, it’s a huge problem, financially and otherwise. So, a waiver of sorts for something inherently dangerous like swimming pool or trampoline doesn’t really bother me– I don’t think it’s necessary, but I can totally understand why people would. I don’t like the 4 pages, but think a simple note would be fine.

    To me, it’s similar to, say, locking your car doors in a relatively safe community. It’s unlikely that someone will come along and swipe the GPS, cell phone, iPod, or other shiny gadgets left in the car. In my county, that’s the BIGGEST crime– people leaving cars unlocked and getting their stuff stolen. If they took a simple precaution of locking their car doors against an unlikely situation, they’d reduce the risk. Not locking the doors (such a small step) seems, to me, kind of foolish compared to the potential loss. And not getting a note from parents giving their kid permission is on par.

    Yeah, ideally, we wouldn’t need to because our first thought wouldn’t be to sue, but the rags-to-riches story has taken a new twist these days. So long as we have judges and juries declaring normal daily risks as someone’s fault, people are being rewarded for this unfortunate behavior. (If they were not rewarded, like a child throwing a tantrum in the grocery store, people would not be so inclined to sue.)

    People on the wrong end of a B.S. lawsuit lose even if they win. They’re still out time and money.

  92. While looking for home owners insurance, the agent told us to get more coverage in case our kids friends, or our friends come over, hurt themselves, and we end up with the bill. I told the agent, “seriously? What is this society coming to when I can’t trust my own family and friends to come over in case someone gets hurt? Should I have everyone sign a contract before they come over? This doesn’t happen in other countries!”
    I notice she got offended when I mentioned ‘other countries’. I told her other countries have problems as well, but America is very ‘sue friendly’. Even my friends from England have said this about America.
    The agent gave me an example of how my kids and their friends can twirl around in my house (example- ring around the rosies), fall and get hurt.
    I was glad I was on the phone with her because I kept rolling my eyes.
    My advice, talk to your neighbor. I can understand if she is scared these days. No one wants to pay for someone else’s kid who gets hurt for playing ‘ring around the rosies’.
    Also this may be off topic, but I don’t like kids coming inside my house if I feel their parents are ‘helicopter’ parents. Fortunately living in OR, most of my kids friends belong to ‘free range’ parents, and I believe they won’t sue if something happens to their kids.

  93. The waiver is not worth the paper it is printed on. None of them are really, as you can not sign your child’s rights away legally. So if a person signed the waiver and something happened that was worthy of suing the waiver would not be an impediment to that suit. The neighbour that sent it home with a kid instead of calling and talking to the parents seems a little off to me. That kind of thing really deserves contact.

  94. I haven’t read all the comments yet, but just wanted to mention a couple of things and I apologize if they have already been said. First, my daughter broke her ankle on a trampoline – didn’t fall off and wasn’t jumping high. We were harassed by insurance companies trying to figure out if the blame was with the neighbor who owned the trampoline. So I can see where a waiver would make sense – because of insurance reasons. Also the AAP has come out and said that trampolines are NOT toys and should NEVER be used as a home toy. They were designed for training purposes for gymnasts. Not for kids in a backyard. My kids have enough imagination and resourcefulness to entertain themselves by other means without a trampoline so we certainly don’t see a need to ever own one and my kids don’t play on them either.

  95. The other side of this is that sometimes you need to sue. If your child comes off a trampoline and breaks their neck (god forbid) they’ll need massively expensive, round the clock care for years to come.

    In that situation the parents aren’t necessarily suing you out of badness but because a claim on the trampoline owner’s household insurance may be the only way to get the injured child the care they need.

    A 4 page waiver is a bit much, though.

  96. It’s the neighbours who need councelling, not you.

  97. @ Diane, yep, fair enough about the waiting times. NZ does have what I think you would call social medicine, and there are long waiting lists for some things. There were not the same wait lists years ago before we got a simple private system alongside the public one. If you need emergency care, though, no problem, and no worries about paying large hospital bills. I think what riles some of us about the private system here is that they cannot handle any kind of emergency, and if someone pays out big bikkies to have an op in the private system and anything goes wrong, they are straight down the road to get sorted out, for free, in the public system.

    Also, SKL, people are not always poor through their own poor choices. Sometimes, but not always. And having spent time in South East Asia, where there is no social safety net, in spite of the fact that some people will always rip the system off, I find I just personally prefer to have one. In spite of the fact that except for medical emergencies, I have not had to access it myself.

    And Diane, what country have you lived in/heard of that doesn’t have supplies like local anaesthetics? That sounds third world.

  98. While no system is perfect, I prefer the Canadian to the US healthcare experience. Yes, I’ve encountered waiting times that seemed frustrating, but weren’t life-threatening. Yes, my son was misdiagnosed at a walk-in clinic and nearly died from an eye infection gone septic. Yes, he was given excellent and immediate care at the hospital and lived to tell the tale. And yes, I required nearly every intervention known to man to get my daughter out of my uterus alive, and boy, was I delighted with the care I received.

    Most people here seem to agree: when the chips are really down, and I mean DOWN, life-or-death, we get what we need here. Does the system ever fail anyone? Of course it does. Any system does. For my own sense of fairness, inclusion, well-being and sustainability, I choose the Canadian system.

    I’ve had both. Canada comes out the winner for me. And it does indeed seem to make for a somewhat less fearful and hysterical populace, that universal access to health care. I do believe the financial panic that injuries and illness inspire in the US leads some folks to do pretty drastic things sometimes, including hovering over their kids like they were made of spun sugar…

  99. That’s a really good point, mollie. I did notice in Malaysia, where the public health system was not, at the time, the best, parents were OTT about their kids sometimes. The beauty of having usually spot-on emergency care is that it is no big deal if a child breaks an arm, except for the child concerned, of course (!) so you can relax a little about your children being adventurous.

  100. First off, in New Zealand where Hinata and myself live, we have good public health care most of the time. There may be a wait for somethings, but you get seen sooner if you are assessed as needing it or your condition worsens. Our ACC system is “no fault” and you cannot sue someone under it.

    Funny thing is, a couple of years ago our daughter tripped on a tent guy rope while running toward the trampoline (breaking her arm) , fracture clinics response “she’d have been safer on the trampoline, we see far more guy rope tripping injuries”.

  101. Oh, catspaw, do I know you :-)? And shouldn’t we both be getting our kids off to bed, LOL!

    Wondered what you were posting under…..Happy Waitangi Day!

  102. @Diane, I have to disagree about long waiting times in countries with universal health care. Germany has a universal system, though some people also have private insurance as a supplement. When my son sprained his ankle last year, he got a referral for an MRI. The MRI appointment was two days after the referral. My husband also had elective knee surgery a few years ago and only had to wait about a week between the time he initially saw the orthopedist and his surgery. You can also go to your family doctor without an appointment. Every doctor has open office hours. If you’re going for an office visit that doesn’t require any special services (lab work, MRI), just show up during the open hours. Sometimes you have to wait an hour or two, but you get seen. You can make an appointment if you need something special done like an EKG or a blood test. I am very happy with the German medical system and its quality of care.

  103. Hinata, ha, ha. My two are in bed already.
    Happy Waitangi day too.

  104. @LRH I totally agree, you ask before going on to someones property, or using their stuff. Unfortunately, even here in New Zealand some people are starting to forget this.

  105. A 4-page waiver? I wouldn’t want my child to play with that one, because those parents will be looking for ANY reason to get you, even if their kid doesn’t ever get injured on the trampoline. I’d just tell you, “Hey, I don’t want my kid on your trampoline. If it’s going to be too difficult to keep them off of it, they can come to my house instead.” Help your kid make some new friends, because she doesn’t need that one – and you don’t need the inevitable grief coming down the road.

  106. Is the waiver just for the trampoline or for anything in their home? For example, (and this is an out there example) of they have a loaded weapon in the bedroom and someone gets shot they want no liability? They allow the use of age-innapropiate tools or other gear? And if the child simply wants to play, but NOT on the trampoline? My response would probably be “no problem, I just need to have my lawyer look at it first.” And then not have my children go play with the new neighbors at all unless it was in a common area of the neighborhood, not even in my home because these parents sound like the type that are looking for a reason to “get” someone else…

  107. I had a trampoline as a kid. No net. Never got hurt. The only person that did get hurt on it was my idiot 20-year-old cousin who decided to pretend he was Kerri Strug by running, leaping onto the trampoline, doing some kind of front flip and landing flat on his back on the ground because he overshot his landing. No hospital trip, but he was bruised and pretty sore. I distinctly remember the rest of the family who was present laughing at him.

  108. I should add that we lived in a rural part of the town and there weren’t a lot of kids around who would have viewed it as an attractive nuisance. Although if random kids had come onto our property to jump on the trampoline, I’m pretty sure my dad would have gotten out his shotgun and threatened to shoot them if they didn’t leave.

  109. I do not agree that these people want to “get” others. I think they want to protect themselves from unreasonable others. I would imagine that they themselves are not the litigious types. The reason I think this is because I and my husband are not, and yet we ourselves have thought about asking our children’s playmates’ parents to sign a waiver since we live in the woods and my husband worries about branches falling on them.

  110. We have mutual friends, where one parent sued the other when a child broke her leg sledding with her friends’ family. This shocked our group of friends, as we would never think of suing parents who we trusted with our kids.
    A year later we got a trampoline, and my husband insisted on having the neighborhood kids’ parents sign a permission slip.
    You have to understand that having a trampoline draws every kid to your house. Your kids suddenly have friends they have never talked to in school. As protection to ourselves, and to weed out kids who aren’t actually friends (but have no problem hopping on our trampoline), we told kids that we needed their parents’ permission.
    I have actually had kids ring my doorbell and ask, “Is your daughter here?” To which I reply, “Which daughter?” “I don’t know her name, the younger one… I want to jump on your trampoline,” is the type of response I’ve gotten more than once.
    Bottom line is… If we know you, and we have mutual trust, jump away; if we don’t know you or your family, we can’t trust you.

  111. Re German system: I guess I’m spoiled, because I have no desire to take off work and sit for hours waiting for a doctor visit. I want to make an appointment and be in and out within a half hour.

    Re US system: I really would be curious to know what % of non-elective medical treatment actually does get covered by the various government-funded plans or via charity (including Medicaid, Medicare, and the insurance provided to government employees).

    My parents are 67/70 and under the Medicare system now. About a month ago, my mom had an eye irritation. She went to the doctor (same day) and he decided she needed surgery to save her sight. She reported to the hospital the same evening. They decided to wait until the next morning so the doctors would be fresh. She had surgery within 24 hours of requesting the initial doctor appointment. They put on a temporary film and she will have a cornea transplant after her eye heals from the infection (probably within the next month or two). None of this is out of pocket. This is just one example of the typical way things are handled here. The true horror stories are the exception to the rule, and they usually involve human error – something the USA doesn’t have a monopoly on.

    We have room for improvement. Since this isn’t a health care policy site, I shouldn’t get into this any further, but I’ll say that we could solve a lot of the problems by doing three things: (a) subsidize COBRA (so people can get free coverage when they are between jobs); (b) ban doctors from charging uninsured patients significantly more than insured patients; (c) limit tort damages to reduce malpractice insurance costs.

  112. Our neighbour has a trampoline and its a nightmare !!!! They’ve had several of their children’s friends hurt and one of the parents finally had the wherewithal to complain. We actually have by-laws about trampolines in our city. You are only to have two people jumping on them at a time and they have to have the netting around them. Now the people that own the trampoline have strict rules plus THE BYLAW NOTICE POSTED ON THE FRONT OF THE TRAMPOLINE !!! No child is allowed on it unless there is a parent present with them now and glad to see that. I personally am not a fan of these things as I’ve heard too many kids I know of being hurt on them; not worth it in my opinion and lots of other things they can do to keep themselves occupied that doesn’t require such strict safety measures to try to keep kids from injuring themselves😦

  113. Well, I have a few thoughts on this matter.

    First, to address a pet-peeve of mine, a “4 page” waiver is not a big deal! Most of the emails I write to friends are over 4 pages in length, and I generally write several of those per day. Then some more for work. Clear communication is a ‘good thing’ (TM), and I weep for a society that considers a few measly pages too much reading for a day (or the term of a friendship, as I assume this waiver is a one-time signature).

    Second, I’m not sue happy, but legal liability is on my mind at all times because I know others are. If you feel this is “un-neighborly”, perhaps you should direct your ire at those who have created the environment in which it is needed; not the intelligent everyman/everywoman who is just reacting to circumstances to mitigate personal risk.

    Third, contacts are beautiful, wonderful things. I’m not a lawyer (though I do love watching People’s Court), but I think our world would be a far better place with far fewer disagreements and arguments if people used more contracts for friendships, relationships, activities, etc (Calvin and Hobbes hilarity not-withstanding). Lots of people balk at this, yet the few people I’ve known who have lived by that belief tend to be the easiest going, happiest people I know. At it’s core a contract is simply an agreement between two people, written down so neither forgets. It communicates and clarifies. Don’t we teach those as positive values? How does something become evil simply due to it’s association with the law? Verbal communication doesn’t cut it; writing is clearer and immutable by interpretation or time.

    And just to toss it out there, it seems irresponsible to recommend not allowing your kids to play with a friend because you don’t like their parents. That is the height of selfishness, as I’ve had to say to one parent around here already. Our job is not of ownership over our kids, nor a partnership. We are acting as stewards of their physical, emotional, and intellectial wellbeing until we can turn that role over to them. Our feelings and desires (as well as theirs) are always always secondary to what is best for the child. I would never let my personal feelings stand in the way of a friendship unless I had strong evidence that said friendship was a threat to my child’s intellectual or emotional development.

    Consider what is actually being argued over here. The parents took some indeterminate amount of their own time to get this together, which isn’t our concern. They’ve asked you to spend 10 minutes of your time reading and signing your name. This addresses a very reasonable fear, and eases the minds of all involved (including you). 10 minutes. For that we have a 100+ comment blog post (which ironically takes 10 times as long to read as the contract would). Where is the cost/reward analysis here? I value time above all else, but 10 minutes is very little to pay in return for the mitigated financial risk…along with the hundreds of hours of worrying that would go on for the parents without this waiver. Maybe you’re not the worrying type; the rest of us have no choice, and have often been saved by that foresight (leading to positive reinforcement for such behavior). We don’t let our worry control us, we simply eliminate it by clarifying the situation and creating an environment in which the worry is no longer relevant. Enter the waiver. Other can jump up and down yelling about the evils of it all they want; it takes a few minutes for us to put together and then it’s forgotten, and we get to deal with less drama and disagreements in our lives.

    And many others have already mentioned the insurance issues. Regardless of what the parents think, it’s fiscally responsible for them to use the waiver if the insurance company asks. We can all get irate about this on our own time and crusade against the insurance carriers, but the topic of discussion here is on our kids time. We have a responsibility to deal with the issue at hand quickly and responsibly and move on. Read the waiver, if it’s reasonable sign it, send our kids on their way. Use it to your advantage to explain what it is, how it works, why it’s necessary. Teach the kids a bit about the legal system, about personal responsibility, about the risks involved and the associated care that should be shown with a trampoline. Anything! They can take something away from this.

    In short, I think it’s very free-range to clarify expectations and assumptions, promote personal responsibility, and accurately record agreements. It baffles me that so many here are speaking out against something that’s very purpose is to address those goals.

  114. I think this would have been seen a lot differently if the story went like this:

    “My daughter went over to meet the new neighbors yesterday. Later on, the neighbor came over to say hello and introduce herself. We talked about the ages and interests of our kids and she mentioned she has a trampoline which was popular with the kids in her old neighborhood. She hopes it is enjoyed here too. She mentioned that her insurance company requires her to promise to have parents sign a waiver if they want to let their kids jump on the trampoline, and asked if that would be something we’d want our kid to do or not. I said sure, let me take a look at the waiver, and she’s going to bring it around the next time we get together.”

    Sending a legal waiver home with a 4yo whose parents you haven’t even met yet? That’s not gonna go over well.

  115. @Nicholas:

    A 4 page waiver is a lot, in this case. Think how simple the objective is: you agree not to sue me if your kid hurts himself on my trampoline. Even (especially?) if you’re not a lawyer that should raise a question in your mind of just what the other 3.99 pages are for.

    I don’t think I’m teaching too many folks something new when I say that the significant thing is not the number of words in an agreement but what the words say. When you’re handed a grossly disproportionate stack of paper and told to sign it it’s up to you if you want to turn it into a speed reading challenge but it’s possibly not the best idea.

  116. @SKL

    The true horror stories are the exception to the rule,

    I think there are far too many exceptions, but I think we agree that anecdotal horror stories aren’t stats, no matter what country they’re quoted for.

    The basic stats for me are: cost per capita (US is double most comparable nations)

    And quality of care in the US lags in many areas.

    United States doing relatively well in some areas — such as cancer care — and less well in others — such as mortality from conditions amenable to prevention and treatment. Many Americans would be surprised by the findings from studies showing that U.S. health care is not clearly superior to that received by Canadians, and that in some respects Canadian care has been shown to be of higher quality

    http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/411947_ushealthcare_quality.pdf

    The report notes that while the U.S. spends more than twice as much on each person compared with most other industrialized nations, we’re in last place when it comes to preventing deaths through appropriate medical care.

    http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/study-quality-u-s-healthcare-lags-despite-high-spending/2008-09-19

    In 2007, health spending was $7,290 per person in the United States, more than double that of any other country in the survey.

    Australians spent $3,357, Canadians $3,895, Germans $3,588, the Netherlands $3,837 and Britons spent $2,992 per capita on health in 2007. New Zealand spent the least at $2,454.

    “We rank last on safety and do poorly on several dimensions of quality,” Schoen told reporters. “We do particularly poorly on going without care because of cost. And we also do surprisingly poorly on access to primary care and after-hours care.”

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/06/23/us-usa-healthcare-last-idUSTRE65M0SU20100623

    Whether kids’ safety or health care, we should be looking at data, not anecdotes. The data says we have a problem.

  117. Normal…for crazy people. lol Waiver?! Really? Actually that doesn’t surprise me for some people these days. They are just paranoid. The only thing that does surprise me is that they didn’t have their lawyer deliver it to you personally. lol

  118. @ Nicholas: Although YOU don’t mind reading or writing long winded letters or emails, that many of us do. So you shouldn’t assume what is ok with you, SHOULD be ok with everyone. Also, a waiver to play with another kid, is absolutely ridiculous. Even if it is just to cover your own ass (and not your kids’). If one has to make up a waiver to send of to their child’s friend’s parents to sign, then they don’t really know their own neighbors. And who’s fault is that? Society’s? Lol…I don’t think so. I know my neighbors. Some I like, some I don’t. Some I trust, some I don’t. If I didn’t trust the parents, I wouldn’t trust my own kid around theirs. Has nothing to do with their children, it has all to do with THEM. They are the ones making it inconvenient, and detrimental to their own kids. No skin of mine, as I have other neighbor friends who think like I do, and my kid has plenty of other kids he can play with, without ever having to sign a waiver. We all understand kids play, and sometimes kids get hurt when they play. They get patched up at whatever house they are at the time, and the parents are informed at some point. No one freaks out. “Is he/she ok?” is asked. And as soon as we here “they’re fine, just a bump/scrape.” We go on with our day, until the kids come home. Waiver. LOL! People really need to start thinking for themselves.

  119. @Stephen:

    >>A 4 page waiver is a lot, in this case. Think how simple the objective is: you agree not to sue me if your kid hurts himself on my trampoline. Even (especially?) if you’re not a lawyer that should raise a question in your mind of just what the other 3.99 pages are for.

    I see where you’re coming from, but I respectfully disagree.

    These things often seem this simple up front, but once one starts writing more and more details and boundary conditions become apparent. I write ‘casual’ contracts and policies all the time for all kinds of purposes. The most recent one was for a role-playing game we play to describe the basic concept of: “All the items we find while together this evening will be bid on by those present. At the end of the night the pot will be divided evenly among us all.” I think I cut the length down during multiple proofreadings to be as concise as possible, but it still clocked in at 9700 characters.

    In the end you want to make it as clear as possible, which adds more words, and then you want to avoid having to waste time answering questions so you add those common points of confusion, which adds more words, and then (in this trampoline case) you want to make sure you cover assumptions from a legal perspective, which adds more words, etc. In the end, much like this reply, you end up with something much longer than you originally expected. But we’re all very different people with very different ideas and perspectives, and truly communicating without assumptions creeping in requires a lot of work.

  120. @EricS:

    It’s a valid point that you may not like reading such long contracts, though I would argue that it’s basically a requirement to function in a modern society (buying a car, signing up for phone/TV/internet/utilities, buying a house, getting married, creating a will, getting insurance, visiting a doctor, and many others are examples we all run into on a continual basis, and which I hope we all show due diligence in scrutinizing), but at some point people must meet in the middle. On that topic…

    You talk much about trusting friends and neighbors. But multiple people in this very post have described personal experiences of people who were trusted in this way suing. Others have also pointed out perfectly rational explanations for why this occurs. Therefore, unless you can describe some way in which the logic is in error, I think we can safely conclude that it’s possible to be sued even by someone you trust. Therefore, trust is insufficient to protect yourself and family fully (which I think we all agree is an impossible goal that we should all strive for).

    I’m open to being convinced by a well reasoned argument. Please tell me why I should avoid such a contract if I’m ever in such a situation, given that my choice is between risking a year long lawsuit with a sue-happy neighbor (that we’ve already concluded can’t be accurately predicted) or wasting 10 minutes of our time to nearly eliminate the risk. Or please explain why I should bear ill-will towards another who is trying to protect themselves by communicating with me via the clearest possible medium of communication?

    To your other comment I’ll just say: I don’t chose my children’s friends. They choose their friends. Taking away one out of ten potentials doesn’t seem like a lot numerically, but if that one person is the one that they truly like and connect with…I would be ashamed to place such a restriction on their shoulders.

  121. I’m sure this is just about the trampoline, and not about visiting the house in general. And it’s probably not about a broken arm or leg either. It’s probably trying to protect the family in the event a visiting kid has a spinal cord injury.

    If a child is paralyzed, it can be an enormous financial burden. Even if you thought suing your neighbor was out of the question, when it comes to providing round the clock care for your child after you die, you might reconsider how important being neighborly is. The cost of all that care might also be more than the amount of insurance the family caries, thus the waiver.

    Of course if it’s just to walk in their front door, forget it. And try to keep them out of your house so they don’t end up suing you.

  122. @SKL (and everyone really) I have a comment held in moderation because it has 4 links. Don’t know if it’s too far off topic, or if Lenore just doesn’t have time. In the interest of the ‘data over anecdotes’, just google for “health care quality us” and the bottom line is a) we pay double what other countries do, and b) while we do very well in some areas like cutting edge cancer cures, we do rather poorly in basic care, especially for all people. We can, and must, do better.

  123. Rich Wilson, we may pay double what other countries do, but that does not prove anything. I pay my maids and nannies $20 per hour. That’s a good month’s salary in some countries. I expect to pay more for the services of someone who went to school (expensively) for 10-12 years post-high school and passed the medical boards. I’d rather not pay the preimium that relates to malpractice insurance, but someone needs to pay it until we have tort reform. I’m sure there is waste in the system, but that’s not the meat of the issue.

    I also think that if you have to wait for months or years for “basic care,” it’s as good as not having the care at all. The stats should reflect that.

    But yes, we can do better. Without throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

  124. SKL The ‘double cost’ is not compared to countries where $20 is a month’s salary. It’s compared to Canada, GB, The Netherlands, New Zealand and Germany. Other industrialized nations come in the same ballpark.

    The studies do consider wait times, and if people were waiting months or years for basic care, then they wouldn’t be considered to have better access to basic care than we do.

  125. I’m willing to pay more for what I consider better – in all aspects of life.

    Reasonable minds can differ on many of these sub-issues. All I’m trying to do is be real. The reality is that medical care / insurance is not, as a prior poster said, “a privilege for the rich.” The vast majority of Americans have access to prompt and good-quality care when they need it. There are exceptions and there is room for improvement.

  126. We had a rule for our children. You can play or sleep over at friends houses whose parents we had met and found clear common ground on child care. Not all those environments were pristine. Yet, my sons seemed only to sustain injuries at our own home. This served my sons and their friends well, even as they reached upper highschool and were given to traipsing across the neighbourhood from house to house in the middle of the night. They all knew and respected all the parents, their neighbourhood, and each other. Complete safety was never ensured. Bad things could have happened. The protection was initially in the parental supervision of enthusiastic activity, certainly in the lessons of how the milder injuries that were sustained, certainly in a certain culture among those peers that came from being part of a bigger family community.

  127. Two questions–

    First, what the heck happened at this house, to these neighbors, that would lead them to start handing out such a document? (I’m assuming some nasty accidents have taken place on their trampoline.)

    Next, I know it doesn’t sound free-range (or does it?) but I’d be hesitant to send my kid over to someone’s house where there’s a trampoline, without knowing what kind of play takes place on it, who plays on it, who is allowed on it (how many kids at a time?), and whether the play on it is supervised.

    Bouncing around on trampolines does result in injuries–statistically.

    You can correct for that with proper supervision (what used to be called ‘spotting’), by not allowing more than one kid on it at a time, by not allowing certain types of moves, or moves that are too high, intense, or fast for the child to control. By treating it, in other words, like a piece of gymnastic equipment that morphed into a backyard ‘toy’ a few decades ago.

    As you can probably guess, I’m not of fan of trampolines, and didn’t encourage my kids to use them at the houses of friends.

    Free-range parenting doesn’t mean, to me, letting kids do ‘whatever’–‘sink or swim’. Kids don’t bounce like balls, on tramps or not, and bones do break, and a broken bone is so fun, and not, in my mind, a necessary part of growing up. With proper supervision, play on a tramp is probably fine for most kids. But without it, and come on, who’s going to supervise their play?, it’s not worth it.

  128. Ank,

    The cookie are a great idea….but the OP should take them over along with a contract that stipulates that if she chokes while eating one, she (the baker of said cookie) can’t be held liable.

    Ridiculous.

  129. If insurance company was the issue here, wouldn’t it just be easier for the parents of the trampoline to say “this trampoline is for family use only. You are welcome to play with other things while you visit.” I have rules at my house and have sent kids home for breaking them. (Like, if you are riding on my bike or using my roller blades, you have to wear a helmet. If your parents let you ride your bike without, that is fine, but this is my bike.) Sure is a lot easier on the eyes and brain to do it that way. As a parent I would understand, as a kid I might be upset, but those are the rules and I could have handled that. Or got sent home.

  130. @SKL

    Lookit:

    w ww.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/documents/american_journal_of_medicine_09.pdf

    62% of ALL bankruptcies in the USA in 2007 were due to medical expenses. 3/4 of these people had insurance. Also, many were middle class.

    Using the stats from that year, there were 673,615 non-business bankruptcies. That’s ~417,000 people who went bankrupt due to medical expenses in 2007. In 2011, there were 1,516,971 non-business bankruptcy filings. Assuming that 62% of them are due to medical expenses also, that’s ~940,000 (almost a million!) people put terminally into the red by medical expenses.

    w ww.iom.edu/Reports/2004/Insuring-Americas-Health-Principles-and-Recommendations.aspx

    In 2005, 44,840 people in your country DIED due to lack of medical coverage. Your country is the ONLY wealthy, civilised country that doesn’t ensure that all of its citizens have access to healthcare coverage, if you can truly call that sort of system “civilised”.

    From: w ww.commonwealthfund.org/Publications/In-the-Literature/2007/Nov/Toward-Higher-Performance-Health-Systems–Adults-Health-Care-Experiences-in-Seven-Countries–2007.aspx

    “37 percent of all adults surveyed—and 42 percent of those with chronic conditions—skipped medications, did not see a doctor when sick, or did not obtain recommended care in the past year because of the cost. These rates are well above those found in the other six countries. Few people in Canada, the Netherlands, and the U.K. reported skipping care because they could not afford it.

    A high proportion of U.S. adults also have serious problems paying medical bills—nearly one-fifth (19%), more than double the rate in the next highest country.”

    Tell me again, how “The reality is that medical care / insurance is not, as a prior poster said, “a privilege for the rich.” The vast majority of Americans have access to prompt and good-quality care when they need it.”?

    Your people have a lot of rights and a lot of freedoms. These include the freedom to get very sick and/or die because you can’t pay for treatment. These include the right to not pay taxes that go to ensuring that everyone can be treated if they get hurt or fall ill.

    This is what I was talking about when I said “healthcare is considered a privilege for the rich”. Healthcare in the USA is widely regarded as being damn awful, and incredibly expensive when compared to other first-world nations.

  131. The litigation state….

  132. That’s funny. I heard a similar story here in Australia. Involving adults only though. A lady at my work told her neighbour she wants to put up a new fence between their properties. The neighbour wrote a very long contract to her saying all the terms if the fence is put up… my colleague had insurance on the fence, so she ignored the letter. I wonder, though, what happens if something goes wrong and the lady sues for not considering the contract.

  133. Sera, first of all, you do realize we have 300 million people here, right? Your statistics are very small in comparison. Like I said, the vast majority of Americans have coverage and for many it’s “free.”

    Second, you apparently don’t know much about US bankruptcy. It happens to be another welfare benefit. When you go bankrupt, you lose your bills and your credit (assuming you had any credit), but you don’t lose your house or your earnings. That’s why people do it. Also, the opportunity to go bankrupt is one of the reasons some people choose not to buy health insurance, particularly if they haven’t got much to lose. Note that these people got the treatment they needed, and did not have to pay for it. That’s what you want for them, right?

    It’s debatable whether 45K people died because of no health coverage. The law requires hospitals to treat EVERYONE who has an urgent need, with no extra wait time. If you’re talking about procedures that aren’t covered under the programs provided for poor and elderly people, or folks who didn’t know to sign up for a program, or people who aren’t eligible for long-term coverage because they are illegal immigrants or for other reasons, that’s a different issue. I’m sure I could find statistics of people in other countries dying due to similar reasons, if I cared to take the time. (Also, unlike Canadians, Americans can’t go across the border to get care they are denied in the USA.)

    Not sure why it gives you so much pleasure to call the USA uncivilized. By all means stay away if that’s how you feel about it. I won’t cry.

  134. I’m going to leave most of this, but as a simple matter of fact:

    unlike Canadians, Americans can’t go across the border to get care they are denied in the USA.

    Americans can and do go to Mexico (and other countries) to get medical care they can’t afford in the US. And if you’re an American (or any) tourist in Canada, you can get health care, you just pay out of pocket.

  135. I have online friends who are doctors who virtually never stop harping on the dangers of trampolines. Apparently kids do get life-threatening injuries on them with alarming frequency. My doctor friends say that there should never be more than one person on the trampoline at a time (which of course takes a lot of the fun out of it), and it should always be supervised by an adult. Apparently all those two-at-a-time flips we used to do on the neighbor’s ground-level trampoline back when I was a kid weren’t such a great idea.:-/

    So I agree with the suggestion to talk with the other parent and find out what this is all about. Have they had bad experiences in the past? Is this a response to a request for their insurance company? And, most important, what are the rules for trampoline use at their house? Once you have that information, you can make a better decision for your daughter.

  136. Interesting how many (apparently) otherwise free-rangers are using this opportunity to cry about Big Daddy Government not taxing us for subpar medical care.

  137. It’s also worth mentioning that, I expect, under such a system, we’d just outlaw tramponlines and whatever else our Big Parents consider too unsafe for them to pay for.

  138. So I decided to look up which countries have already banned trampolines. You know, evidence instead of wild speculation. Still looking…

  139. Puzzled makes a good point.

    Remember that one of Obama’s recommendations was that if you don’t do what the doctor recommends, you are denied care when you later get sick. So if the doctor recommends HPV vaccine, and my daughters don’t get it, they won’t be entitled to care if they get cervical cancer, I guess. And our ability to seek care individually will be curtailed as well. So yeah, that’s really free range.

    Will it apply to forcing kids to wear helmets on trikes? Washing with antibacterial soap every half hour? Giving Tylenol for every fever? What if I don’t take my kid for every recommended “well child” visit? Will the government force the issue like they do with mandatory school attendance? (Are handcuffs in my future?) As for me, who has had exactly one “well” visit as long as I can remember, will I be denied all care for being such a rebel?

  140. “Americans can and do go to Mexico (and other countries) to get medical care they can’t afford in the US. And if you’re an American (or any) tourist in Canada, you can get health care, you just pay out of pocket.”

    I have an online friend who works at a clinic in Vancouver. She says they see a fair amount of Americans who come over the border for simple medical treatment, even Americans with US insurance, because it’s cheaper to pay for medical care out of pocket at her clinic than cover the co-insurance amount in the US. It’s apparently become a much higher number since the high deductible plans went into effect.

  141. @SKL no country I’m aware of have such rules. So you can relax🙂, I guess USA will not have them neither🙂

  142. I hope this link works:

    http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/26/6/w717.full.pdf+html

    That should link you to the fulltext of “Toward Higher-Performance
    Health Systems: Adults’ Health Care Experiences In Seven Countries, 2007”.

    I’ll just tell you some stats out of it from the USA, Australia, and Canada for comparison.

    % of GDP and cost per capita spent on heathcare:

    USA 16%, $6697. AUS: 9.5%, $3128. CAN: 9.8%, $3326.

    % of people in country that DO NOT have heathcare cover:

    USA: 16%. AUS, CAN (also, New Zealand and the UK): 0%

    Did not visit doctor/undergo treatment/use medicine due to cost:

    USA: 37%. AUS: 26%. CAN: 12%.

    Serious problems paying medical bills:

    USA: 19%. AUS: 8%. CAN: 4%.

    Also, life expectancy (years) and world rank:

    USA: 78.3, #36. AUS: 81.2, #6. CAN: 80.7, #12.

    Infant mortality rate and world rank:

    USA: 0.626%, #46. AUS: 0.475% #29. CAN: 0.504%, #36.

    This is just some comparative information. Draw your own conclusions about how effectively the US government is spending its citizens’ money on healthcare as opposed to the governments of Australia and Canada (and Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the UK if you read the study stats). Also draw your own conclusions as to what percentage of those citizenries can afford injuries or illnesses.

    Personally, I think that the healthcare issues in the USA is a big part of why nobody wants any children taking any risks or getting any injuries – because such occurrences are going to be expensive to SOMEBODY. This, I think, is the reason why the rest of the world sees the USA as being so “sue-happy”. Everything needs to be somebody’s fault… because somebody needs to pay the medical expenses.

    And, um, I’m pretty sure that trampolines and other such things are not banned in Australia. I can’t speak for anyone else’s country. Also, yes, you are absolutely allowed to have private health cover over here if you can afford it and don’t like the public system. There are, in fact, incentives to do so to take the strain off the public system (you get a 1.5% income tax levy that goes to the health system if you’re above a certain income and don’t have private cover), so you’re not “forced” to use the public system.

  143. Speaking of sue-happy. Today I saw a news story about some NYC kindergarten kids playing “doctor.” Two parents were suing the school for $5M each because the teacher had her back turned long enough for some kid to flash his weenie (or however that went down).

    No word on whether either suing family had health insurance.

  144. Sera, we get it, you hate the USA.

  145. >> Sera, we get it, you hate the USA.

    Sera’s last comment doesn’t appear to contain any venom or hatred at all, and seems to be a relatively rational disection of the issue at hand. Sera addressed only the issue, and proposed a reasonable mechanism by which the medical system could be linked to the USA’s public persona, which s/he showed concern about. As a US citizen proud of my heritage, and a libertarian, I tend to agree with Sera on this particular subject and share that concern; the US system is currently grossly inefficient and ignoring that reality will not make it go away.

    If you disagree, perhaps you could address the statistical information provided.

    Speaking of which…

    >> So if the doctor recommends HPV vaccine, and my daughters don’t get it, they won’t be entitled to care if they get cervical cancer, I guess.

    I actually agree with your point and concern, but this was a very very poor example. Avoiding a momentary pinprick that has a statistically relevant chance of saving your child’s life seems the height of irresponsibility. And last I heard “free range” was about teaching and being responsible; not doing whatever the heck pops into our heads without regard for consequences.

    In any case, the line is going to be drawn somewhere. Maybe by government or maybe by insurance companies. It’s not a question of if, but of where and by whom. That’s the better issue to address and discuss, I think.

  146. @SKL. I doubt anybody here on this blog hates the US. In fact, if it weren’t for US soldiers down here during WW2 NZ wouldn’t have one of my favourite politicians, LOL!

    It is just that to some outsiders, particularly those raised in sort-of socialist countries, the idea that ‘you’ (i.e. the American public, which I know is diverse, so it’s somewhat silly to lump you all together, but here goes-) would prefer a system which means unequal access to healthcare to its population. You have to pay for it anyway, so why not use taxes to spread the load?

    And Puzzled, taxation for services has nothing to do with free range. It has to do with provision for those less fortunate than yourself, a mark of a caring society. Does it always work? Heck no! But with healthcare, at least down here, hospitals anyway work well enough.

    And nobody wastes time with frivilous lawsuits, or 4page play waivers.

  147. The problem with removing future care from people *whose parents* decided to take the risk and go all natural is that you’re punishing them for their parent’s choices. There are very few children who have much of an opinion on vaccines beyond “ouch” and “lollipop”. It’s all their parents’ issues.

    Not publicly funding emphysema treatment for people who didn’t stop smoking after they were told their smoking was killing them and they would need emphysema treatment if they didn’t stop seems a little bit harsh but distinctly more understandable.

    Don’t penalise people because their parents made risky choices but there’s a lot of sense in making people even somewhat responsible for *their* health decisions. We already don’t give transplant livers to people who can’t/won’t stop drinking because transplant organs are too scarce to waste.

  148. Nicholas, what I didn’t like about Sera’s last comment (other than the general tone) was the assumption that it’s up to the government to provide and pay for everyone’s health care. I think part of why health care is so expensive here is the amount of government interference we already have. The law dictates what my health premium is going to cover, whether I want all that coverage or not. My freedoms have already been curtailed too much in the health care arena. More is not better, in my opinion.

    As for my judgment on the HPV vaccine, you are absolutely wrong in your beliefs that this is a “momentary pinprick” and also that this creates a “statistically relevant chance of saving my child’s life.” Cervical cancer is one of the most rare diseases on the books. The vaccine only addresses half of the cases, so you still have to use other preventive methods if you want to be 100% safe. And, the vaccine is a series of painful shots that have significant known side effects. So no, I don’t think it’s in my kids’ best interest to have it, and I’m glad I have the right to refuse it.

    We are a country of 300 million different people, with widely different beliefs, and any system that requires us all to do the same thing or obey one authority infringes on our rights.

    If we just did a few things to stop jacking up the costs of individually-purchased healthcare, we could solve most of the problems that exist without creating new ones. Putting it under the government is just going to create a costly bureaucracy. The fact that it might work in other countries (though that’s debatable, since I’ve heard plenty who’ve experienced the dark side) does not mean it will work for us. By that standard, we ought to kick all low performers out of school and put them in work programs as teens, force all young men into the military at a certain age, and various other things you might not agree with. Besides, our political structure is different and our government is inefficient at everything it does, with the possible exception of collecting taxes.

  149. I actually like the idea of the government essentially providing liability insurance while forbidding lawsuits to recover those types of damages. However, the example provided above had a guy waiting over 20 years to get approval to fix his blackened front teeth. That is not OK! How do you go to a job interview or client meeting with black teeth? The concept sounds good, but sounds like it doesn’t work in practice.

  150. Coincidentally, I just saw this in national headline news:

    Phoenix man dies after spinal injury at indoor trampoline park

    A 30-year-old Phoenix man has died after suffering a spinal injury at an indoor trampoline park, fire officials said.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/02/07/phoenix-man-dies-after-spinal-injury-at-indoor-trampoline-park/?test=latestnews#ixzz1ljprbesp

  151. @SKL. I suspect it had nothing to do with the agency concerned (ACC). Sounded to me like the guy just waited that long to bother dealing with it. Teeth aren’t really that big a deal down under – as long as they’re in your mouth, and they work, and your breath is okay, who cares?🙂

    ACC tends to get a little antsy when you go after old injuries, so it probably did take a while (but nowhere near 20 years) to get sorted…..

  152. Being alive is 100% fatal.

    Maybe some genius will sue his parents for putting him into a game he can’t win.

  153. The fact that it might work in other countries does not mean it will work for us.

    USA is different than other western countries, of course. But it is less different than Americans seem to think. China and Japan are totally different than Germany or France, USA is less different.

    Lessons learned by other countries apply to USA (and other way round too). Of course, you cannot just copy paste policy, some adjustments to local conditions are always needed. Throwing it all because ‘we are different’ means loosing access to a lot of knowledge and of experiences.

  154. >> The problem with removing future care from people *whose parents* decided to take the risk and go all natural is that you’re punishing them for their parent’s choices. There are very few children who have much of an opinion on vaccines beyond “ouch” and “lollipop”. It’s all their parents’ issues.

    In many cases I agree with this, and I would even go so far as to partially retract my statement in light of this consideration.

    However, in the case of the HPV vaccine, the choice does not become truly relevant until a child is sexually active. Though we, as a society, infanticize our children many cultures see sexual maturity as the first step into adulthood. These ‘children’ are in their early to mid teens, more than old enough to be able to understand the meaning of cancer, causative agents, and preventative care. Certainly some will not, but we must draw a point somewhere that we expect children to show the most basic form of personal responsibility. When should we extend them protection from that? 15? 18? 21? 43?

    Yes, at this point their parents are to blame, but plenty of 13 year olds have the wherewithal and knowledge to seek out this care even against their parents wishes.

    >> As for my judgment on the HPV vaccine, you are absolutely wrong in your beliefs that this is a “momentary pinprick” and also that this creates a “statistically relevant chance of saving my child’s life.”

    I’m sorry, but I don’t deal in belief. Numbers are numbers; if mine contain invalid data or incorrect math then show my mistake and I will happily reject my previous conclusion and reassess based on the new data.

    Over 5% of diagnosed cancers are caused by the HPV virus, and the available vaccines will be effective against some 70% of those cases. Please note that simply dividing the number of new cases by the total population would be a statistical error, as young woman are seriously overrepresented. Whether the benefits of this vaccine are statistically relevant depends on what you consider statistically relevant, but eliminating a potentially serious risk that has as much as a 1% chance of affecting my daughters, assuming few to no side effects or risks from the vaccine, isn’t something I’d think twice about.

    As for those side effects, there are few. The most common appears to be soreness around the injection area, which certainly qualifies this as a ‘pinprick’ to me. Other side effects occurred in 0.05% of recipients of the vaccine, and only 0.00001% were fatal. Most of the negative will towards these shots ride on the back of the anti-vaccination and alt-medicine movement, a group of anti-scientific beliefs that have been shown to have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of innocents.

    Please also note that by not vaccinating you are not only affecting yourself, but weakening heard immunity. Healthy individuals who are not immunized (as a general rule applying to all vaccines) may not bear much risk, but become carriers and put those members of society with weakened immune systems (babies, elderly, recovering friends and family, etc) at a higher risk of infection. Based on a concept of harm, this is inarguably unethical. So although I want the government out of my life and my money, I almost support their involvement in this issue (since society seems to have failed at managing it themselves).

    >> The vaccine only addresses half of the cases, so you still have to use other preventive methods if you want to be 100% safe.

    Nothing is 100% safe. This is a red herring.

    This, like most things in life, requires little belief or even choice. It’s a pure numbers game. What are my risks of death with, and what are my risks of death without? What is the societal death rate assuming mass adoption, and what is it now? Simple number comparison tells the majority of the story. Beyond that you need only factor in costs and side effects.

  155. My youngest child slipped and fell in the kitchen of our babysitter’s home (private in-home sitter) and ended up with a gash on his head that required stitches. I would never have thought about requiring my sitter to pay for any of the cost resulting from this accident, but our health insurance company had other ideas. They were constantly hounding me for her information so that they could go after her for payment. If we don’t have health insurance to cover accidents than what is the point! We were lucky that they finally dropped the issue but it really opened my eyes to more of the legal issues we have in the US.

    I completely understand why this person has a waiver but I still think it is crazy. Most of the families in our neighborhood have trampolines and none has required a waiver so far..but most of us are pretty free-range as well🙂 I agree with what some of the other have said about kids not being allowed to do other normal kid things (climb trees, ride bikes, roller skate, etc.) so the trampoline appears to be more dangerous or kids now simply don’t have the “skills” necessary to do the things we did as kids.

  156. If somewhere is so dangerous that they need a disclaimer (and it MUST be dangerous or a disclaimer would not be needed Right?), don’t let your kids go there.

    Send a note to the other parents telling them that.

    Simple

  157. “I think our world would be a far better place with far fewer disagreements and arguments if people used more contracts for friendships, relationships, activities, etc …. Lots of people balk at this, yet the few people I’ve known who have lived by that belief tend to be the easiest going, happiest people I know.

    Cough…Splutter.. What?

  158. @peter,

    No, seriously, I absolutely agree with that.

    My feeling is that simply thinking through what you’re agreeing to, and crucially confirming what you *think* you’re agreeing to with the other side, in sufficient detail to write it down means everyone’s clearer on what’s actually going on right at the start. Further down the line, the written record helps if you ever need to remember what exactly it was that you actually agreed to — for example, did my neighbour say I could keep the lawnmower in my garage or not?

    Where a lot of people go wrong is to randomly vomit ipso factos and hereinafters onto a sheet of paper thinking that using that sort of language magically makes it a contract (it’s generally counter-productive to try to pretend you’re a lawyer if you’re not) but clearly thinking through what everyone means and writing it down can only help everyone involved.

  159. Nicholas, then I’m sure you will be having (or already had) yourself and all of your sons vaccinated against HPV to promote herd immunity. After all, males are statistically more promiscuous than females, and this is an STD.

    You are misinformed or uninformed, and it is none of your business whether I choose to vaccinate my child against an STD.

  160. >> Cough…Splutter.. What?

    I was a bit put-off when I first met the couple I’m thinking of that had a relationship agreement, but after a little thought I realized I didn’t have a rational objection. And this sort of thing is relatively common in non-romantic contexts; ever heard of a “roommate agreement”? How about a landlord/tenant contract (and many landlords and tenants are friends to a degree).

    I know there is an appeal for many of the ‘simpler days’ modeled around the traditional nuclear family, neighbors who were all friends, and absolute trust of others. However, despite high ideals this doesn’t work so smoothly in practice. At some point we need to stop judging ideas like the one I presented based upon our idealistic preconceptions and open ourselves to a less judgemental and more open worldview that accepts others’ ideas and contributions and asseses them on rational ideals.

    With that in mind, is there a rational argument about such a thing that you could present? Is there a set of negative aspects to these contracts (assuming all parties approached the subject with a mature, non-reactionary attitude) that you could present that outweigh the obvious benefits to all involved? And how is it any different than meeting with someone over coffee to discuss rules regarding a ‘playdate’, other than the fact it’s in writing?

    I think this discussion leads us right back to the original topic. From a rational perspective there isn’t anything particularly objectional. But we have an emotional, societal distaste for clear written agreements for whatever reason.

  161. >> After all, males are statistically more promiscuous than females, and this is an STD.

    From a statistical perpsective you are right, and for the record I do take vacinnation of myself and my family very seriously (though I have only daughters, not sons). I sense you thought this comment may insult and/or anger me. On the contrary I accept it as a perfectly valid concern and have already acted accordingly.

    >> You are misinformed or uninformed…

    You have provided no evidence of this, nor countered the numbers or arguments presented. This is instead an argumentum ad hominem.

    >> You are misinformed or uninformed, and it is none of your business whether I choose to vaccinate my child against an STD.

    This is an emotional topic that I sense I will have no possibility of changing your mind on. Per the arguments I presented earlier, I disagree and think it’s partially my business, but arguable as to how much. I will leave it off there.

    As always, I will reassess in the face of a rational argument. Will you?

    I find our disagreement here somewhat surprising. I’ve enjoyed many of your comments over the past year and found we were in agreement on many subjects. I’m sorry our first direct interaction had to be so negative…and so volatile

  162. Nicholas, I have done a fair amount of research on the HPV vax, as a woman who has two young daughters. I researched the stats on how many women actually get cervical cancer per year (despite all the hype and annual pap recommendations, it is actually rare), and informed myself as to how much of the risk still remains after getting the HPV vax. I have informed myself of the trauma and side effects of the HPV vax, and more. However, I am not going to go back and find all that research for you just to prove I’m not being pig-headed.

    I am of the philosophy that you don’t inject chemicals into your kids just because you can (or just because someone is getting paid to recommend it); there is no vax that is without side effects, so you always do a cost/benefit analysis. Some vaxes we have gotten, some we are waiting on, and some I will leave up to my daughters.

    Point being, as a person with skin in this game, I do not make these decisions lightly. And yes, I would reconsider if I saw convincing new evidence, but reading some anonymous guy’s recollections on an unrelated blog doesn’t qualify. Nor does it motivate me to drop everything and renew my research. My daughters are 5, and they are not going to drop dead if I don’t read up on the latest HPV research right now. I keep my eyes and ears open. That’s how I know some of your information is inaccurate as of now.

    I think it’s great that you made the decision you believe in for your daughters. That’s what parents do in a free country. You don’t see me criticizing you as you have done to me for making a parenting choice.

  163. The theory behind the vaccine is sound: If HPV infection can be prevented, cancer will not occur. But in practice the issue is more complex. First, there are more than 100 different types of HPV and at least 15 of them are oncogenic. The current vaccines target only 2 oncogenic strains: HPV-16 and HPV-18. Second, the relationship between infection at a young age and development of cancer 20 to 40 years later is not known. HPV is the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection, with an estimated 79% infection rate over a lifetime. The virus does not appear to be very harmful because almost all HPV infections are cleared by the immune system. In a few women, infection persists and some women may develop precancerous cervical lesions and eventually cervical cancer. It is currently impossible to predict in which women this will occur and why. Likewise, it is impossible to predict exactly what effect vaccination of young girls and women will have on the incidence of cervical cancer 20 to 40 years from now. The true effect of the vaccine can be determined only through clinical trials and long-term follow-up. Not to mention the vaccine is only proven to be effective for 5 years. There are approximately 3,700 deaths each year in the U.S. from cervical cancer (CC). There are approximately 150 MILLION women in the U.S. This means CC causes death in 0.002466% of American women each year. The cost to vaccinate all 150 Million women with HPV vaccine: $540,000,000 (more than 1/2 Billion Dollars) According to CDC, as of 06/2011, there have been approx. 35 million doses of HPV vaccine distributed since 2006. There have been 18,727 reports of adverse reactions to VAERS during that time. At this rate, the percentage of adverse reactions to the vaccine is 0.053505%. When compared with the rate of deaths from cervical cancer among U.S. women each year (0.002466%), the rate of REPORTED vaccine injury from HPV vaccines is more than 2,000% higher than the death rate from cervical cancer. 35 million doses of gardasil equates to $4,200,000,000. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/vaccines/hpv/gardasil.html

    http://www.naturalnews.com/downloads/FDA-HPV.pdf
    IN this pdf, the fda states that 1. Most cases of HPV go away on there own. 2. It is not HPV that causes the cancer, but it is the repeated infections from not being taken care of (routine pap smears, kryotherapy). 3. When the vaccine is given to girls who already have HPV it increases their chance of getting precancerous lesions by 44.6%. So basically every girl needs to be tested before they get the vaccine, and that does not happen. 4. Fda states that “most infections are short lived and not associated with cervical cancer”. 5. The leading researcher on Gardasil says it is a “public health experiment”. 5. She also says that if it is effective, it only last for up to 5 years. So why are these girls and families being given a false sense of security by being told it is lifetime protection? Now they are trying to give it to infants. How many 0-5 year old do you know who are sexually active? SAneVAx, a group in the USA studied vials of GArdasil from different countries and found genetically engineered HPV in them. They sent the info to the FDA. The FDA is ignoring it, but the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) and the European Medicines AGency (EMA) is going to investigate it. IF they find the same results it will prove that Merck lied when trying to get the Gardasil vaccine approved. They will have to pull the vaccine off the market. Now here is one more little tidbit: VRBPAC Background Document
    Gardasil™ HPV Quadrivalent Vaccine
    May 18, 2006 VRBPAC Meeting http://www.naturalnews.com/downloads/FDA-Gardasil.pdf
    Gardasil appears to increase disease by 44.6 percent in certain people – namely, those who were already carriers of the same HPV strains used in the vaccine.
    In other words, it appears that if the vaccine is given to a young woman who already carries HPV in a “harmless” state, it may “activate” the infection and directly cause precancerous lesions to appear. The vaccine, in other words, may accelerate the development of precancerous lesions in women.
    This is information that has simply not been made available in the debate over Gardasil vaccination policies. The pro-vaccination rhetoric has always been about “saving lives” and it carried the implied statement that Gardasil is perfectly safe for all women, posing absolutely no increased risk of cancer. What these documents reveal, however, is that Gardasil may, in fact, pose a serious increase in the risk of cervical cancer in some recipients of the vaccine.
    The FDA directly admits the vaccine is utterly useless in these women, stating in the same document,
    “Finally, there is compelling evidence that the vaccine lacks therapeutic efficacy among women who have had prior exposure to HPV and have not cleared previous infection (PCR positive and seropositive).”
    What this essentially means is that the “safe” administering of the Gardasil vaccine requires that it be administered only to virgins (because virtually all women who are sexually active carry HPV strains). That, of course, would require the direct questioning of the sexual habits of all young girls before administering the vaccine.”
    If you get yearly pap smears your risks of cervical cancer from HPVs – all of them, and NOT just the two you are vaccinated against – is virtually eliminated. (Remember that cancer from HPVs only happens after a HPV infection doesn’t resolve itself and turns into precancerous lesions that are then ignored for a lengthy amount of time.) For the women that don’t get these yearly exams, it seems highly unlikely they will be receiving the series of shots every 5 years to ensure they remain effective. Not to mention they are only effective in 2 out of 15 strands of HPV meaning if they are not getting their pap smears they have a chance of getting cervical cancer from one of the other 13 strands. :/ I will not be risking my daughter’s health in these vaccines and I hope someone who might still be reading this thread might be enlightened as well.

  164. I’ll try one more time. My comment is in moderation, (too many links, I suppose), so I’m pasting again with spaces in between links so hopefully it will post. 😉

    The theory behind the vaccine is sound: If HPV infection can be prevented, cancer will not occur. But in practice the issue is more complex. First, there are more than 100 different types of HPV and at least 15 of them are oncogenic. The current vaccines target only 2 oncogenic strains: HPV-16 and HPV-18. Second, the relationship between infection at a young age and development of cancer 20 to 40 years later is not known. HPV is the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection, with an estimated 79% infection rate over a lifetime. The virus does not appear to be very harmful because almost all HPV infections are cleared by the immune system. In a few women, infection persists and some women may develop precancerous cervical lesions and eventually cervical cancer. It is currently impossible to predict in which women this will occur and why. Likewise, it is impossible to predict exactly what effect vaccination of young girls and women will have on the incidence of cervical cancer 20 to 40 years from now. The true effect of the vaccine can be determined only through clinical trials and long-term follow-up. Not to mention the vaccine is only proven to be effective for 5 years. There are approximately 3,700 deaths each year in the U.S. from cervical cancer (CC). There are approximately 150 MILLION women in the U.S. This means CC causes death in 0.002466% of American women each year. The cost to vaccinate all 150 Million women with HPV vaccine: $540,000,000 (more than 1/2 Billion Dollars) According to CDC, as of 06/2011, there have been approx. 35 million doses of HPV vaccine distributed since 2006. There have been 18,727 reports of adverse reactions to VAERS during that time. At this rate, the percentage of adverse reactions to the vaccine is 0.053505%. When compared with the rate of deaths from cervical cancer among U.S. women each year (0.002466%), the rate of REPORTED vaccine injury from HPV vaccines is more than 2,000% higher than the death rate from cervical cancer. 35 million doses of gardasil equates to $4,200,000,000. http:// www. cdc .gov/ vaccinesafety/vaccines/hpv/gardasil. html
    http:/ /www. naturalnews. com/downloads/FDA-HPV. pdf
    IN this pdf, the fda states that 1. Most cases of HPV go away on there own. 2. It is not HPV that causes the cancer, but it is the repeated infections from not being taken care of (routine pap smears, kryotherapy). 3. When the vaccine is given to girls who already have HPV it increases their chance of getting precancerous lesions by 44.6%. So basically every girl needs to be tested before they get the vaccine, and that does not happen. 4. Fda states that “most infections are short lived and not associated with cervical cancer”. 5. The leading researcher on Gardasil says it is a “public health experiment”. 5. She also says that if it is effective, it only last for up to 5 years. So why are these girls and families being given a false sense of security by being told it is lifetime protection? Now they are trying to give it to infants. How many 0-5 year old do you know who are sexually active? SAneVAx, a group in the USA studied vials of GArdasil from different countries and found genetically engineered HPV in them. They sent the info to the FDA. The FDA is ignoring it, but the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) and the European Medicines AGency (EMA) is going to investigate it. IF they find the same results it will prove that Merck lied when trying to get the Gardasil vaccine approved. They will have to pull the vaccine off the market. Now here is one more little tidbit: VRBPAC Background Document
    Gardasil™ HPV Quadrivalent Vaccine
    May 18, 2006 VRBPAC Meeting http:// www. naturalnews. com/downloads/FDA-Gardasil. pdf
    Gardasil appears to increase disease by 44.6 percent in certain people – namely, those who were already carriers of the same HPV strains used in the vaccine.
    In other words, it appears that if the vaccine is given to a young woman who already carries HPV in a “harmless” state, it may “activate” the infection and directly cause precancerous lesions to appear. The vaccine, in other words, may accelerate the development of precancerous lesions in women.
    This is information that has simply not been made available in the debate over Gardasil vaccination policies. The pro-vaccination rhetoric has always been about “saving lives” and it carried the implied statement that Gardasil is perfectly safe for all women, posing absolutely no increased risk of cancer. What these documents reveal, however, is that Gardasil may, in fact, pose a serious increase in the risk of cervical cancer in some recipients of the vaccine.
    The FDA directly admits the vaccine is utterly useless in these women, stating in the same document,
    “Finally, there is compelling evidence that the vaccine lacks therapeutic efficacy among women who have had prior exposure to HPV and have not cleared previous infection (PCR positive and seropositive).”
    What this essentially means is that the “safe” administering of the Gardasil vaccine requires that it be administered only to virgins (because virtually all women who are sexually active carry HPV strains). That, of course, would require the direct questioning of the sexual habits of all young girls before administering the vaccine.”
    If you get yearly pap smears your risks of cervical cancer from HPVs – all of them, and NOT just the two you are vaccinated against – is virtually eliminated. (Remember that cancer from HPVs only happens after a HPV infection doesn’t resolve itself and turns into precancerous lesions that are then ignored for a lengthy amount of time.) For the women that don’t get these yearly exams, it seems highly unlikely they will be receiving the series of shots every 5 years to ensure they remain effective. Not to mention they are only effective in 2 out of 15 strands of HPV meaning if they are not getting their pap smears they have a chance of getting cervical cancer from one of the other 13 strands.:/ I will not be risking my daughter’s health in these vaccines and I hope someone who might still be reading this thread might be enlightened as well.

  165. Marlene: wow. That’s worse than I thought.

  166. Marlene,

    First of all, thank you for the response and for providing references; something I should have done in my posts on the matter. The data you provided forced me to research further and reassess my stance on the issue. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to provide the length of response your post deserves, but I would like to touch upon a few points:

    >> First, there are more than 100 different types of HPV and at least 15 of them are oncogenic. The current vaccines target only 2 oncogenic strains: HPV-16 and HPV-18

    This is true, but not particularly relevant. Those 2 strands account for 70% of all cervical cancers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gardasil). The point isn’t to address the greatest number of different strains; the point is to help the greatest percentage of people avoid the disease.

    >> There are approximately 3,700 deaths each year in the U.S. from cervical cancer (CC). There are approximately 150 MILLION women in the U.S. This means CC causes death in 0.002466% of American women each year. The cost to vaccinate all 150 Million women with HPV vaccine: $540,000,000

    This is a valid point that I had not considered, and especially relevant on this blog. At what point is the cost too great to justify increasing safety margins by a small number? That’s a question I can’t directly answer.

    However, the cost of the vaccine was determined (and approved by the CDC) based on the total cost savings to the health system by a reduction in cancer and related treatments. This was estimated, assuming a 100% uptake among women 11 to 26 in the United States, at $5,000,000,000 (http://discovermagazine.com/2007/jun/hpv/?searchterm=gardasil). I believe Merck estimated the total income from Gardasil for a full distribution to be approximately $11,000,000,000, from which costs would need deducted. Those numbers seem slightly off from your calculations, and I’m unsure why. Any thoughts?

    >> At this rate, the percentage of adverse reactions to the vaccine is 0.053505%. When compared with the rate of deaths from cervical cancer among U.S. women each year (0.002466%), the rate of REPORTED vaccine injury from HPV vaccines is more than 2,000% higher than the death rate from cervical cancer.

    According to the source you listed (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/vaccines/hpv/gardasil.html), 92% of those reactions were minor (such as soreness) and can be reasonably discounted. Beyond those, you are assuming that correlation automatically implies causation, and it does not. The actual number of verified deaths from the vaccine is currently at 34. Even using your number of 3700 deaths in the US from cervical cancer (which is lower than most estimates I’ve seen), you’ve improved survival chances by 10,000% with the vaccine.

    More serious side effects that could cause long term or permanent disability are difficult to measure due to limited data and the complication of sorting causation from correlation. Even using your number of 18,727 (which seems a bit high), and assuming 100% of those effects were directly caused by the vaccine, we have a serious reaction rate of 1,498 out of 35,000,000. That brings the risk of serious side effects to 0.004%. So at the very worst, your chances of having a serious side effect that you will likely recover fully from are some 50% higher than your chances of death without the vaccine.

    I would like to take this opportunity to point out this wonderful visualization of the risks and benefits involved, as most of us are keyed to understand more quickly from a picture: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/2009/how-safe-is-the-hpv-vaccine/

    >> 2. It is not HPV that causes the cancer, but it is the repeated infections from not being taken care of (routine pap smears, kryotherapy).

    It is a shame that some people do not take preventative care seriously, but if it comes to a choice between letting those stragglers suffer the consequences or giving them a vaccine that improves their odds of surviving their responsibility, isn’t the latter preferable? I have had no chance to verify this claim, so I cannot say more yet, but even taken what you’ve said as a given I don’t believe it speaks against vaccination.

    >> Gardasil appears to increase disease by 44.6 percent in certain people – namely, those who were already carriers of the same HPV strains used in the vaccine.

    I am unaware of this issue. Could you please provide a reference? Even if true this is circumvented by getting your child vaccinated at the age of 11, when it is highly unlikely sexual activity has yet occurred.

    >> Not to mention they are only effective in 2 out of 15 strands of HPV meaning if they are not getting their pap smears they have a chance of getting cervical cancer from one of the other 13 strands.

    I’m sorry, I’m not sure I understand your position here. If a woman is not getting proper preventative care, and you acknowledge that the vaccine protects them from 70% of their risk factors, then they are 70% safer. If a woman is getting proper preventative care, their safety is still increased by an incalculable amount assuming she continues preventative care.

    Are you suggesting that women are stopping preventative care because they have the vaccine? That seems dangerously similar to the mass objections to Gardasil in the early days because it would “promote sexual promiscuity”. Both of these make unfounded assumptions, unfair judgments, and could easily be corrected through better public outreach and education.

    >> NaturalNews.com

    I hate to have to call this out, but several of your references are from Natural News. Natural News is not an impartial resource, and has been known to rely upon unscientific premises in their positions. They constantly challenge evidence based medicine with alternative and spiritual treatments, many of which have been shown not to work. (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/NaturalNews)

    >> I will not be risking my daughter’s health in these vaccines and I hope someone who might still be reading this thread might be enlightened as well.

    I share your hope that readers will be enlightened, and I hope none of them simply take our word for any of this. Instead, I encourage everyone to follow the references and links, and verify everything that is written here. I truly believe that discussions of this sort, when followed up by readers, saves lives.

  167. “I actually like the idea of the government essentially providing liability insurance while forbidding lawsuits to recover those types of damages. However, the example provided above had a guy waiting over 20 years to get approval to fix his blackened front teeth. That is not OK! How do you go to a job interview or client meeting with black teeth? The concept sounds good, but sounds like it doesn’t work in practice.”

    – I think this example may have had some thing to do with elegibility criteria and when the person chose to pursue it. Imagine proving an accident had occured over 20 years ago. This system is being pursued in Australia and will be a huge thing for the cost of taking care of people with disability.

    Also somebody spoke about the disadvantages of living somewhere with social health – in Australia we have a mixed system with a combination of private and public providers, with the public system as a safety net for all with excellent quality care. (People here complain about stuff to do with our healthcare system but I think they really have no idea how bad it is for people using public hospitals in the US).

    I have never ever heard of a family asking another family to sign a waiver for a play, how extraordinary.

  168. “If you get yearly pap smears your risks of cervical cancer from HPVs – all of them, and NOT just the two you are vaccinated against – is virtually eliminated.”

    @ Marlene- I have had yearly pap smears since I was 18 (mom was an OB/GYN so this was drilled into me) and still I found out that I had cervical cancer from HPV despite not being sexually active for the five previous years and always having protected sex. You can get HPV from a wart on your thumb. If you have ever had a wart anywhere on your body, it is possible that you have HPV. This is one reason why 75% of sexually active people carry the virus. The vaccine protects you regardless of how you contact HPV.

  169. @ Marlene- Regular pap smears don’t stop you getting cancer. They’re just a way of detecting that you have cancer early enough to hopefully treat it.

  170. Depending on who your health care insurance company is, you can get involved in a lawsuit and not even want it.

    If your child gets hurt on your neighbors trampoline, and your health insurance company pays the bills, they have the right, under almost every contract out there, to sue your neighbors, in your name, to recover those costs.

    Your neighbors may have had a bad experience. Their waiver won’t mean anything though. Most courts consider trampolines “an attractive nuisance” and whether you signed a waiver or not, it is a liability for the owner.

    IANAL, consult your own attorney regarding the laws in your community

  171. This is a test comment, please respect it [:)] Kuriozitete Te Ndryshme

  172. […] on earth is this world coming to? I read this post on one of my favourite sites, Free Range Kids and couldn’t believe what I was reading, quite […]

  173. I have only read the first 20 comments or so, but I happen to have a different view. My children are 2, 3 and 7. I have actually thought about having their friends parents sign a waiver to play at our home. I do happen to have a trampoline in my backyard. We also have a lake, a small 15 lb dog and 2 flights of stairs. People are very sue happy these days. I dont always know the parents of my 7 year olds friends well. My children are only allowed to play at homes of maybe a handful of people all of which I am personally friends with and maintain that friendship. I would have no need to ask them for a waiver but that doesnt mean I wouldnt.
    About a year ago my children and I were at my 25 year friends house with her kids. Her small dog bit my 7 year old on the hand and caused a small puncture. My 7 year old is my step daughter. She does live with us. Her mother wanted to sue my friend. Small instinces like this are why everyone should be protected.
    I dont understand why you would not be willing to sign something if you never had had an intention to hold them responsible. Read the contract. 4 pages may be excessive – or it may just be properly written.

  174. […] sign a 4-page liability waiver before her child could play on their trampoline. Parenting website Free Range Kids asks the question, “Is this the new […]

  175. i was at a party, kids were playing on a trampoline, no net with sharp pencils and such. i said something and i got a dirty look from the parents

  176. We had a trampoline growing up, and so did our neighbours. No nets, no pads, so nearly all of friends maimed or injured themselves at one point. And nobody sued anybody – but that’s life in New Zealand. Actually I got a decent sized lump on my head from hitting the concrete at the neighbours after a particularly ill-timed flip. Wonder if I can track them down and sue them?!1

  177. When I was young my parents took our friend on vacation. My friends mom made my parents sign a waver. At the time I thought it was a bit excessive but I knew her mom was a nurse and growing up now I realize that she was just looking out for the best interest of her child and when.I have kids one day I might do the same. It’s not a bad idea to protect yourself.

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